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Future Government. Design criteria for algorithmic systems

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Algorithmic technology can fundamentally influence what a government does and how it operates. The integration of algorithmic systems across a wide range of public sector organizations is mainly used to support a variety of decision-making mechanisms, changing those structures into automated or algorithmic decision-making systems (ADMS). The shift towards automation has invited a lot of questions and expectations from the public around the uses of automation and its social and ethical impact.

Government plays an important safeguarding role to ensure human (and humane) intervention in ADMS will lead to fair and just outcomes for society. While much of the technological innovation is driven by the private sector, the application of ADMS in the public sector tends to have a significant impact on society and individuals. The use of ADMS by governments shapes our lives and opportunities; as such, the public sector faces much higher expectations to act in a fair and lawful manner in order to protect the interests of its citizens. Public institutions thus face a particular responsibility with regard to implementing ADMS.

But how can this responsibility be fulfilled? To ensure a transparent dialogue between the public and its institutions takes place, governments need to develop a trustworthy, fair, and accountable approach to using ADMS. It is therefore crucial for governments to keep abreast of the legal and ethical frameworks surrounding the development and use of this technology. Algorithmic technology and ADMS should always be designed in ways that respects human rights, democratic values and diversity. People’s privacy and security must be protected and bias has to be mitigated, which depends on the data being of good quality and used in an ethical manner.