Life in the automated society

Automating Society


“Life in the automated society: How automated decision-making systems became mainstream, and what to do about it.”
Today, Oct 28th 2020, the Bertelsmann Stiftung released an extensive report on the deployment of Automated Decision-Making (ADM) systems in the EU. For the report they investigated 16 EU countries, 40+ people were involved, with 30+ researchers and journalists from all studied countries.

According to the project manager Fabio Chiusi, the findings are alarming.

  • ADM is already part of everyday life for millions of European citizens, affecting their health, welfare, job and rights more broadly
  • ADM is on the rise all over Europe – and fast
  • The clearest example of the sudden rise of ADM in Europe is face recognition. It is suddenly everywhere, even in the face of mounting evidence of its discriminatory outcomes.

Most of the systems were deployed without a proper governance in place and without involvement or consent of the affected public.

  • The Automated Society is opaque
  • A fundamental lack of transparency has been denounced by all our researchers – and this needs to change.
  • This systemic transparency makes it difficult to research and, consequently, provide an evidence-based judgement concerning the overall contribution of ADM systems to society
  • Most of the time, this endemic opacity of ADM systems is exploited precisely to prevent scrutiny
  • It also means that the automated society established itself without any meaningful democratic debates around its principles and uses
  • Judging by the evidence we were able to gather, the potential of ADM to both individuals and society is far from being realized
  • The vast majority of uses recorded in the report tend to put people at risk rather than help them
  • But they are being piloted/deployed nonetheless, because of technological solutionism

 Please find the full report here:

Gerhard Schimpf, the recipient of the ACM Presidential Award 2016 and 2024 the Albert Endes Award of the German Chapter of the ACM, has a degree in Physics from the University of Karlsruhe. As a former IBM development manager and self-employed consultant for international companies, he has been active in ACM for over four decades. He was a leading supporter of ACM Europe, serving on the first ACM Europe Council in 2009. He was also instrumental in coordinating ACM’s spot as one of the founding organizations of the Heidelberg Laureates Forum. Gerhard Schimpf is a member of the German Chapter of the ACM (Chair 2008 – 2011) and a member of the Gesellschaft für Informatik. --oo-- Gerhard Schimpf, der 2016 mit dem ACM Presidential Award und 2024 mit dem Albert Endres Award des German Chapter of the ACM geehrt wurde, hat an der TH Karlsruhe Physik studiert. Als ehemaliger Manager bei IBM im Bereich Entwicklung und Forschung und als freiberuflicher Berater international tätiger Unternehmen ist er seit 40 Jahren in der ACM aktiv. Er war Gründungsmitglied des ACM Europe Councils und gehört zum Founders Club für das Heidelberg Laureate Forum, einem jährlichen Treffen von Preisträgern der Informatik und Mathematik mit Studenten. Gerhard Schimpf ist Mitglied des German Chapter of the ACM (Chairperson 2008 – 2011) und der Gesellschaft für Informatik.

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