Governing algorithms
Perils and powers of AI in the public sector


AI could well have been nominated Person of the Year 2020 by Time magazine due to huge media attention, in-depth scientific scrutiny and hot policy and regulatory debates that swirled around the great opportunities and enormous risks it poses. However, in 2021 and beyond, we should not stop talking about AI.

The goal of this whitepaper is to contribute towards an inclusive development of AI and help restore and strengthen trust between policymakers and the public. This calls for a greater effort to understand AI’s effects more clearly and develop explainable and accountable algorithms. Furthermore, there is a need for strong evaluation frameworks that can assess not only the performance but also the performance and socio-economic impact of AI.

The whitepaper contains five AI use case studies that have raised concern due to the considerable public backlash that emerged following their adoption. Each fuelled strong debate among politicians, academics, practitioners and citizens. These examples all come from European countries with other international examples also included throughout the whitepaper. The whitepaper examines mostly European cases because the European Union (EU), seeking to limit the risks associated with AI, took the position of developing a responsible AI that has an ethical purpose and technical robustness. These are two critical components for fostering trust and facilitating uptake.


Governing “with AI” means humans should still remain in the classical situation of using and controlling a technology that reinforces our capacity, through a process that requires human supervision. Crucially, however, this requires a better understanding of the potential benefits and risks associated with the use of AI in the public sector.
Gianluca Misuraca. Team Leader and Senior Key Expert on AI Diplomacy & Strategic Communication