Sound portraits to understand the algorithms that affect us
The public sector is in full transformation. Until recently, all tasks and decisions within the administration fell to human beings. But in recent years governments around the world have integrated automated systems into their work processes.
However, the use of algorithms and Artificial Intelligence in this sector often goes unnoticed by citizens. These systems are sometimes difficult to see and understand. But its effects on society are, on the other hand, very real: its good or bad performance has direct consequences on people’s lives.
With this podcast we want to explore various algorithms that the Spanish public sector has been using for some time. Systems with very different purposes and that reflect the many challenges that these technological solutions have ahead. But also the potential risks involved if they are not designed and implemented properly.
(In spanish) For more than a decade in catalan prisons, a decisive algorithm has been used for the passage of any person who enters prison. In 2008 a group of violence researchers began designing RisCanvi.
In the first episode of this podcast we learned how RisCanvi works. These algorithms caused quite a stir when it was discovered that in some cases they discriminated in their decisions.
The rise in the price of electricity has become a real problem for many families in Spain. In order to help the most vulnerable households, the Government created a social bond years ago that subsidizes, in part, the payment of the electricity bill.
VioGén uses an algorithm that attempts to predict the risk faced by the woman reporting the crime and her children. The prediction is based on the information that the victim shares with the agent, along with other data that police have access to.
There in Valencia, in 2018, the regional parliament approved the creation of an automated system, that would be used to detect fraud within its administration. This tool, known as SALER, anticipates potential cases of corruption with the help of a series of algorithms.
In this final chapter we open a space to reflect on where the automation of the public sector is headed. We also delve into issues such as the ethical and democratic limits of algorithms; the need to mitigate the biases inherent in these systems; and the challenges of governments in managing increasingly complex and datafied societies.
The use of predictive algorithms in the criminal and penitentiary field generates many doubts among some experts
The issue of transparency (or the lack of it) is another of the big issues when talking about Artificial Intelligence.
The allocation of public aid is one of the areas of the public sector where the use of automated systems has grown the most.