New project: Auditing Algorithms for Systemic Risks

Assessing algorithmic systems is an indispensable step towards the protection of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. At the moment, it is largely unclear how it can and should be done. With the support of Alfred Landecker Foundation, we are developing ideas, procedures, and best practices to effectively assess algorithms for systemic risks, test them in practice, and advocate for their adoption.

An array of risks

The risks that arise from the widespread use of complex algorithmic systems are not limited to social media platforms. An automation of society is happening right now: Algorithmic systems are used to score convicted criminals for the risk of re-offending, distribute welfare payments, police communities, and decide who gets hired for a job. This poses grave risks to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.

Developing solutions

Based on the evidence we gather, we will develop recommendations on how to enable auditing of algorithms and on how to turn it into an effective tool for public oversight and accountability.

To do so, we will particularly look at the following questions:

  • What needs to be done to make algorithmic systems auditable?
  • How can inclusive and comprehensive auditing approaches be implemented?
  • What governance frameworks are needed to turn auditing into an effective and systematic
    tool to enhance transparency, democratic control, and accountability?

Advocacy

For this project, our advocacy activities will focus on the European level, including both the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as national legislation in Europe, the German and Swiss legislation in particular.

While we also develop recommendations on how to create additional frameworks for algorithmic auditing that go beyond existing or emerging legislation, we will lay a particular focus on influencing current policy processes, especially the ones concerning the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA).

Additionally, we are working on public campaigns to emphasize the project’s relevance and impact, reach a wider audience, and engage our community on a meaningful level.

About our Partner

Alfred Landecker Foundation funds, supports, and promotes interdisciplinary projects that advocate for democratic values and institutions and create a network of globally active partners in which knowledge and experience become widely available. As an open and democratic society depends upon participation, responsibility, and civil courage, we are grateful for their support for this project.