Prospectus and limitations of algorithmic governance: an ecological evaluation of algorithmic trends

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Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance


© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to offer a roadmap for work on the ethical and societal implications of algorithms and AI. Based on an analysis of the social, technical and regulatory challenges posed by algorithmic systems in Korea, this work conducts socioecological evaluations of the governance of algorithmic transparency and accountability. Design/methodology/approach: This paper analyzes algorithm design and development from critical socioecological angles: social, technological, cultural and industrial phenomena that represent the strategic interaction among people, technology and society, touching on sensitive issues of a legal, a cultural and an ethical nature. Findings: Algorithm technologies are a part of a social ecosystem, and its development should be based on user interests and rights within a social and cultural milieu. An algorithm represents an interrelated, multilayered ecosystem of networks, protocols, applications, services, practices and users. Practical implications: Value-sensitive algorithm design is proposed as a novel approach for designing algorithms. As algorithms have become a constitutive technology that shapes human life, it is essential to be aware of the value-ladenness of algorithm development. Human values and social issues can be reflected in an algorithm design. Originality/value: The arguments in this study help ensure the legitimacy and effectiveness of algorithms. This study provides insight into the challenges and opportunities of algorithms through the lens of a socioecological analysis: political discourse, social dynamics and technological choices inherent in the development of algorithm-based ecology.

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