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Chapter 3. BOSCO and the social bonus to pay for the electricity bill

Tags: 'Public Innovation'


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 bonus that subsidizes, in part, the payment of this bill.


What few people know is that the decision of who receives this bonus or not is in the hands of an algorithm. The BOSCO system came into operation in 2017 and is used by distribution companies to process all the documentation they receive from applicant families. The allocation of public aid is one of the areas of the public sector where the use of automated systems has grown the most.


A group of journalists began to investigate how this algorithm worked. Observing that the software made errors, they asked the administration for access to the source code of the program. That is to say: to his guts, to find out what was going on. But they ran into a refusal on the part of the public organisms.


Transparency (or the lack of it) is another of the big issues when talking about Artificial Intelligence. Journalists Eva Belmonte and David Cabo, from the Civio Foundation, talk to us in this episode about their dispute to find out what is behind BOSCO and its decisions.


We also chatted with Sergio Carrasco, lawyer and engineer, about what a “black box” algorithm is and what its repercussions are on the rights of citizens.


We also know the case of Mercedes, applicant for the social bonus, and Nerea Caballero, the technician who has helped her in the long process to process this help that is so essential for many families.



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