New York City will be among the first cities in the US to earnestly tackle black box algorithms, the automated decision-making systems that are rarely made public, but have greater and greater influence over lives. A bill passed by the city council this week orders the creation of a local task force to monitor and assess the effect of these algorithms on the public. Unless Mayor Bill de Blasio vetoes the bill, which he is not expected to, the task force will audit the city’s algorithms for disproportionate impacts on different communities and come up with ways to inform the public on the role of automation.
An Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) investigation just revealed an awfully Orwellian fact: the FBI is working with government researchers to develop advanced tattoo recognition technology. This would allow law enforcement to sort and identify people based on their tattoos to determine “affiliation to gangs, sub-cultures, religious or ritualistic beliefs, or political ideology.”
Google, a company whose primary business is advertising, also does some pretty incredible things with the technology it has developed.