ACM Global Technology Policy Council releases

ACM Technology Policy Council

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Credit: Association for Computing Machinery

The Association for Computing Machinery’s global Technology Policy Council (TPC) has released a new Statement of Principles for Responsible Algorithmic Systems, co-authored by the US (USTPC) and Europe (Europe TPC) Technology Policy Committees. Recognizing that algorithmic systems are increasingly being used by governments and corporations to make or recommend decisions that have far-reaching implications for individuals, organizations and society, the ACM Statement sets out nine instrumental principles that ensure a fair, accurate and intended to promote advantageous algorithmic decision-making.

The statement includes a definition for each principle and a brief explanation of how the principle contributes to the overall goal of building responsible algorithmic systems. The nine instrumental principles include: legitimacy and competence; minimize damage; security and privacy; Transparency; interpretability and explainability; maintainability; contestability and verifiability; accountability and responsibility; and limiting environmental impact. The new statement complements the ACM Code of Ethics and is intended to serve as a guide for algorithm developers and designers to stay alert to the potential for bias and unfairness at every stage of the software development process.

“We are building on our 2017 Statement on Algorithmic Transparency and Accountability with principles that urge designers and developers to provide sufficient evidence of the legitimacy and reliability of automated systems so that users do not have to blindly trust them,” explained Jeanna Matthews, Professor at Clarkson University and co-lead author of the new statement. “Processes for transparently collecting and sharing this critical information throughout the lifecycle of a system are key to the responsible use of algorithmic systems in cooperation with all stakeholders affected by a system.”

“This declaration improves on the first in several aspects,” added Ricardo Baeza-Yates, professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra and co-lead author of the new declaration. “We incorporate two new important instrumental principles: legitimacy and competence. These define the validity of an algorithmic system as well as the sustainability that worries about our future on Earth. We also discuss governance issues, including how to put these principles into practice, by providing a number of examples of trade-offs to consider.”

In addition to the nine instrumental principles, the ACM Technology Policy Council recognizes that despite establishing a framework to avoid bias in algorithms, several factors could lead to unfair systems. For these reasons, the Statement on Principles for Responsible Algorithmic Systems includes four recommendations that consider the way data is processed and how a system is deployed.

  • System builders and operators should adhere to the same standards when choosing inputs or architecture of systems that humans adhere to when making equivalent decisions
  • Developers of AI systems should conduct comprehensive impact assessments before deploying AI systems
  • Policy makers should mandate that audit trails be used to achieve higher standards of accuracy, transparency and fairness
  • Operators of AI systems should be held accountable for their decisions, regardless of whether algorithmic tools are used.

ACM Technology Policy Council members also recognize that a “one size fits all” approach to creating responsible algorithmic systems would be ineffective and that context plays an important role in every developer’s decisions. ACM TPC members hope that the Statement of Principles for Responsible Algorithmic Systems will stimulate discussion among all stakeholders, initiate more research, and help leaders develop governance methods to bring benefits to a wide range of users while maintaining reliability , Security and responsibility of algorithms to promote systems.

Through the ACM US Technology Policy Committee
ACM’s US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) serves as the focal point for ACM’s interaction with all branches of the US government, the computing community and the public on policy matters related to information technology. The committee regularly educates and briefs Congress, the administration, and the courts on significant computer developments and how these developments affect public policy in the United States.

About the ACM Europe TPC
The ACM Europe Technology Policy Committee (ACM Europe TPC) promotes dialogue and the exchange of ideas on technology and computing policy issues with the European Commission and other government bodies in Europe, as well as the informatics and computing communities. The Europe TPC is committed to sound public policy and public understanding on a wide range of issues at the intersection of technology and politics. Its policy statements reflect the expertise of ACM Europe Council’s professional members from the public and private sectors, with experience in computer science, computer science and other computer-related subjects.

About ACM
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, bringing together computer educators, researchers, and professionals to stimulate dialogue, share resources, and address the challenges of the field. ACM empowers the collective voice of the computing profession through strong leadership, promoting the highest standards and recognizing technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, career development and professional networking.


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