“We need to make algorithms transparent, regulated, and forgiving of the flawed creatures that converse with them.”

An argument in favour of an FDA for algorithms


Fri, Nov 9th, 2018 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Nautilus speaks with Hannah Fry from the University of College in London about her recent book, Hello World. In her book, Fry talks about the positives that algorithms can brings, but is also being cautious demanding they be "transparent, regulated, and forgiving of the flawed creatures that converse with them."

It used to be the case that you could just put any old colored liquid in a glass bottle and sell it as medicine and make an absolute fortune. And then not worry about whether or not it’s poisonous. We stopped that from happening because, well, for starters it’s kind of morally repugnant. But also, it harms people. We’re in that position right now with data and algorithms. You can harvest any data that you want, on anybody. You can infer any data that you like, and you can use it to manipulate them in any way that you choose. And you can roll out an algorithm that genuinely makes massive differences to people’s lives, both good and bad, without any checks and balances. To me that seems completely bonkers. So I think we need something like the FDA for algorithms. A regulatory body that can protect the intellectual property of algorithms, but at the same time ensure that the benefits to society outweigh the harms.



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