Automated Decision Systems under study

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binary code nyc

Automated Decision Systems under study

Co-chairs of the ADS Task Force briefed council members on their work during a NYC Committee on Technology hearing but provided few details about progress made.
April 5, 2019

The New York City Council’s Committee on Technology got its first update from the nearly year-old Automated Decision Systems Task Force, a group of technology experts and government officials charged with providing input on how the city uses algorithms to make decisions.

Automated Decision Systems is a broad category that can include algorithms that use artificial intelligence, machine learning or simple data analysis to make decisions about things like resource allocation for in-need schools or neighborhoods. But all algorithms invite bias – often racial bias – causing a recent uptick in scrutiny of these systems.

New York City’s task force on ADS – hailed as the first of its kind in the nation – was convened in May of last year and given 18 months to make recommendations, including a procedure for how New Yorkers disproportionately impacted by ADS could obtain information on those systems, and a process for publicly disclosing information about agency ADS.

At Thursday’s hearing before the City Council Committee on Technology, co-chairs of the ADS Task Force briefed council members on their work, but provided few details about progress made. Jeff Thamkittikasem, director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations and chair of the task force, said that because of the diverse set of 18 voices on the task force, they’re still working on hammering out a definition of ADS.

Advocates and members of the public who grew frustrated with the vague answers from the task force leadership’s testimony will have an opportunity to directly raise their concerns later this month. The ADS task force will hold the first of two public hearings on April 30, with additional community hearings in the works.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.