Negligent Algorithmic Discrimination

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The use of machine learning algorithms has become ubiquitous in hiring decisions. Recent studies have shown that many of these algorithms generate unlawful discriminatory effects in every step of the process. The training phase of the machine learning models used in these decisions has been identified as the main source of bias. For a long time, discrimination cases have been analyzed under the banner of disparate treatment and disparate impact, but these concepts have been shown to be ineffective in the context of AI. This paper examines the possibility of studying algorithmic discrimination from the perspective of negligence law. Negligent selection and validation of datasets and classifiers is a salient cause of improper training in machine learning. It is a breach of an employer’s duty to protect others, a failure of its exercise of due care in the manner of choosing employees. Adopting negligence to algorithmic discrimination requires a reformulation of what is foreseeable and reasonable within the context of black box algorithms, and a shift in the burden of proof to the employer, who must present evidence of its efforts to avoid bias.
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Archival date: 2021-01-13
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