Algorithms and Justice Project
Motivation: Algorithms and AI are increasingly applied directly to the legal system and are relevant to emerging technology cases in the law. Just a few statistics capture this fact: ten percent of U.S. courts use Risk Assessment Algorithms (RAAs) for pre-trial and bail hearings; twenty-three states use RAAs for sentencing and parole; and thirty-nine states use them for juvenile justice. However, most judges have not had formal training in understanding how algorithms work, or may lack the technical understanding necessary to properly vet new algorithms.
Solution: In collaboration with the Duke Center on Law & Technology, Ethical Tech has created an initial set of tools to clearly explain the general end-to-end development process of Risk Assessment Algorithms. Our goal is to provide a toolkit with common language that enables judges to understand the social and legal implications of different algorithmic design decisions that impact tools like RAAs and thus impact the justice process. Our work is a starting point for important conversations around how algorithms can enhance justice, with the long-term goal of helping judges best apply algorithmic justice as they see fit.
Future: Our module on Risk Assessment Algorithms and the general pipeline of algorithm development is only the beginning. We will expand on this work with new modules that focus on current and future algorithms—those behind driverless cars, smart contracts, and brain-interfaces—in order to explore important algorithm design decisions—training/testing data, dynamic/static code, data ownership, transparency, accuracy, repeatability, and bias—and their social and legal impacts.
Directors: Cassi Carley and Jeff Ward.
Ethics and Education Project
Motivation: While universities, primary schools, and extracurricular programs around the world are offering comprehensive courses in computer science, technology policy, and the engineering disciplines, ethics is all too often omitted. The same goes for professional environments where considerations such as algorithmic transparency, data privacy, and inclusive design are often a mere afterthought.
Solution: Through collaboration with the nation's top universities, technologists, and nonprofit organizations, Ethical Tech is leading the educational push to include technology ethics across educational disciplines. From algorithmic bias and algorithmic transparency to data privacy, system security, and inclusive design, we are working to create modules that can be open-sourced and shared with the world. Rather than pushing a single, narrow definition of "ethical technology," we aim to empower inclusive conversations around the idea itself—enabling programmers, policymakers, and the public alike to have a voice in our digital future.
Future: Our modules will be open-sourced and shared with the world. If you or your organization want to collaborate on this initiative, please use the "Contact Us" form to reach out.
Directors: Justin Sherman and Aria Chernik.