Public engagement with algorithms in public services

3S members Helen Pallett and Jason Chilvers are among the authors of a new briefing note on public engagement with algorithms in public services in the UK. This briefing note is one of the outputs of the ‘Just Public Algorithms‘ Project which was funded by the Not Equal Network+ (EPSRC).

The briefing note summarises the completed findings of the project which mapped and analysed 77 cases of public engagement with algorithms in public services in the UK. The report gives insights into the diversity of existing public engagement with the use of algorithms in public services, as well as the emerging trends in the focus of these engagements, including around health and social care and policing, and concerning a range of different technical applications of algorithms in facial recognition technologies, data aggregation, chatbots, risk profiling among other approaches. It also explores broader public perspectives on the benefits and risks of these emerging approaches expressed in these cases of engagement, from discrimination and privacy to broader debates about service provision needs. It concludes with some points on how we can ensure the continuing responsible and ethical development of these approaches, which draw on a stakeholder workshop hosted in February 2020.