The rise of the algorithm need not be bad news for humans

 at the Financial Times: “The science and technology committee of the House of Commons published the responses to its inquiry on “algorithms in decision-making” on April 26. They vary in length, detail and approach, but share one important feature — the belief that human intervention may be unavoidable, indeed welcome, when it comes to trusting algorithmic decisions….

In a society in which algorithms and other automated processes are increasingly apparent, the important question, addressed by the select committee, is the extent to which we can trust such brainless technologies, which are regularly taking decisions instead of us. Now that white-collar jobs are being replaced, we may all be at the mercy of algorithmic errors — an unfair attribution of responsibility, say, or some other Kafkaesque computer-generated disaster. The best protection against such misfires is to put human intelligence back into the equation.

Trust depends on delivery, transparency and accountability. You trust your doctor, for instance, if they do what they are supposed to do, if you can see what they are doing and if they take responsibility in the event of things go wrong. The same holds true for algorithms. We trust them when it is clear what they are designed to deliver, when it is transparent whether or not they are delivering it, and, finally, when someone is accountable — or at least morally responsible, if not legally liable — if things go wrong.

Only human intelligence can solve the AI challenge Societies have to devise frameworks for directing technologies for the common good This is where humans come in. First, to design the right sorts of algorithms and so to minimise risk. Second, since even the best algorithm can sometimes go wrong, or be fed the wrong data or in some other way misused, we need to ensure that not all decisions are left to brainless machines. Third, while some crucial decisions may indeed be too complex for any human to cope with, we should nevertheless oversee and manage such decision-making processes. And fourth, the fact that a decision is taken by an algorithm is not grounds for disregarding the insight and understanding that only humans can bring when things go awry.

In short, we need a system of design, control, transparency and accountability overseen by humans. And this need not mean spurning the help provided by digital technologies. After all, while a computer may play chess better than a human, a human in tandem with a computer is unbeatable….(More).