Public Fairness Perceptions of Algorithmic Governance

What is a fair algorithm? Algorithms are increasingly being used by governments to make decisions that impact individual citizens' lives. Thus, we are on the verge of a revolution in the public sector, where computers will take over many of the governance tasks previously assigned to human bureaucrats. With it, the conditions for impartial and transparent treatment of citizens are changing. Increased capacity to process relevant information enhances the potential for making more accurate and efficient judgments. Yet, we also run the risk of creating a black box society where citizens are being kept in the dark about the decision-making processes, potentially undermining the legitimacy of governmental institutions among the citizens they serve. While significant attention in the recent few years has been devoted to theoretical discussions on fairness, accountability, and transparency related to algorithmic decision making, little is still known about citizens’ views on this issue. There is thus an imminent need to study these emerging governance developments from a political science perspective, and that is what this project sets out to do. The Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University and The Digital Social Science Core Facilities (DIGSSCORE) at the University of Bergen are involved in the project, ensuring high data quality from top social science infrastructures.