Columbia Journalism School

Algorithmic Accountability Reporting: On the Investigation of Black Boxes

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Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 6:30pm

(Stabile Student Center)

Algorithmic Accountability Reporting: On the Investigation of Black Boxes

Software and algorithms have come to adjudicate an ever broader swath of our lives, including everything from search engine personalization and advertising systems, to teacher evaluation, banking and finance, political campaigns, and police surveillance. But these algorithms can make mistakes. They have biases. Yet they sit in opaque black boxes, their inner workings, their inner “thoughts” hidden behind layers of complexity. We need to get inside that black box, to understand how they may be exerting power on us, and to understand where they might be making unjust mistakes. This panel will tackle some of these big questions, and offer some new thinking and research from the Tow Center on how journalists might begin investigating algorithmic power in society.

The panelists include:

Scott Klein, Editor of News Applications, ProPublica

Cathy O’Neil, Data Scientist at Johnson Research Labs

Clifford Stein, Professor, Columbia University

The evening will begin with an introduction to the Tow Center’s research on this topic by Nick Diakopoulos, Tow Fellow, followed by discussion and Q&A by the panelists and audience.

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