From satisficing to artificing: The evolution of administrative decision-making in the age of the algorithm

Paper by Thea Snow at Data & Policy: “Algorithmic decision tools (ADTs) are being introduced into public sector organizations to support more accurate and consistent decision-making. Whether they succeed turns, in large part, on how administrators use these tools. This is one of the first empirical studies to explore how ADTs are being used by Street Level Bureaucrats (SLBs). The author develops an original conceptual framework and uses in-depth interviews to explore whether SLBs are ignoring ADTs (algorithm aversion); deferring to ADTs (automation bias); or using ADTs together with their own judgment (an approach the author calls “artificing”). Interviews reveal that artificing is the most common use-type, followed by aversion, while deference is rare. Five conditions appear to influence how practitioners use ADTs: (a) understanding of the tool (b) perception of human judgment (c) seeing value in the tool (d) being offered opportunities to modify the tool (e) alignment of tool with expectations….(More)”.