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Project

AI: Algorithms and Justice

Government institutions around the globe are beginning to explore decision automation in a variety of contexts, from determining eligibility for services; to evaluating where to deploy health inspectors and law enforcement personnel; to defining boundaries around voting districts. Use cases for technologies that incorporate AI or machine learning will expand as governments and companies amass larger quantities of data and analytical tools become more powerful.

Our work on algorithms and justice (a) explores ways in which government institutions incorporate artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning technologies into their decisionmaking; and (b) in collaboration with the Global Governance track, examines ways in which development and deployment of these technologies by both public and private actors impacts the rights of individuals and efforts to achieve social justice. Our aim is to help companies that create such tools, state actors that procure and deploy them, and citizens they impact to understand how those tools work. We seek to ensure that algorithmic applications are developed and used with an eye toward improving fairness and efficacy without sacrificing values of accountability and transparency.

We engage directly with government officials (including through the Center’s AGTech Forum) to facilitate learning and idea-sharing around emerging AI issues. We are developing a database of currently in-use risk assessment tools to enable comparisons and empower stakeholders to make informed decisions. We write and publish on topics ranging from interpretability and explainability of algorithmic decisions, to human rights implications of artificial intelligence, to best practices for governments  considering adoption of these technologies. And, we build courses, education materials, clinical projects, and teaching curricula to help train future generations of lawyers to respond to the legal, policy, regulatory, ethical, and social challenges presented by AI.


Publications 04

Friday, Aug 3, 2018

A Harm-Reduction Framework for Algorithmic Fairness

Any evaluation of algorithmic fairness must consider a counterfactual analysis of the effects that algorithmic design, implementation, and use have on the well-being of… More

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

AGTech Forum Briefing Book: State Attorneys General and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is already starting to change our lives. Over the coming decades, these new technologies will shape many of our daily interactions and drive dramatic… More

Friday, Feb 9, 2018

Follow-up Letter to the Members of the Massachusetts Legislature Regarding the Adoption of Actuarial Risk Assessment Tools in the Criminal Justice System

The following open letter — signed by Harvard and MIT-based faculty, staff, and researchers — is directed to the Massachusetts Legislature to inform its consideration of risk… More

Thursday, Nov 9, 2017

An Open Letter to the Members of the Massachusetts Legislature Regarding the Adoption of Actuarial Risk Assessment Tools in the Criminal Justice System

This open letter — signed by Harvard and MIT-based faculty, staff, and researchers— is directed to the Massachusetts Legislature to inform its consideration of risk assessment… More


News 06

Wednesday, Jul 11, 2018

Algorithms and Justice

Examining the role of the state in the development and deployment of algorithmic technologies

A retrospective from this first year of work, describing research modes and outputs and identifying takeaways. More

Podcast
Friday, Dec 1, 2017

When a Bot is the Judge

What happens when our criminal justice system uses algorithms to help judges determine bail, sentencing, and parole? More

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017

A Legal Anatomy of AI-generated Art: Part I

This Comment, published in the JOLT Digest, is the first in a two-part series on how lawyers should think about art generated by artificial intelligences, particularly with regard… More

Wednesday, Sep 6, 2017

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Ruling on Bail Instructive Re: Algorithms & Criminal Justice

Prof. Chris Bavitz notes how a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling might impact the use of algorithms in criminal justice. More

Friday, Aug 25, 2017

Algorithms in the Criminal Justice System

Assessing the Use of Risk Assessments in Sentencing

This paper focuses on the incorporation of risk assessment software into the criminal sentencing process, and offers a set of key considerations and questions for further research… More

Medium
Monday, May 15, 2017

Some starting questions around pervasive autonomous systems

Jonathan Zittrain defines some of the cross-cutting questions arising from the mainstreaming of applied artificial intelligence More


Community 03

Medium

It’s not enough for AI to be “ethical”; it must also be “rights respecting”

On the importance of thinking about both the human rights implications and the ethics of AI.

Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018
Medium

Putting the J(ustice) in FAT

Ben Green calls for the disentanglement of the concepts of unfairness and injustice within the Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency movement.

Monday, Feb 26, 2018
SSRN

Artificial Intelligence's Fair Use Crisis

In the United States, the copyright law mechanism most likely to facilitate machine learning’s uses of protected data is the fair use doctrine. However, current fair use…

Thursday, Sep 7, 2017

Events 07

Nov 29, 2018 @ 5:00 PM

Skewed or Rescued?: The Emerging Theory of Algorithmic Fairness

Opening Keynote Address by Cynthia Dwork

A Public Lecture by Cynthia Dwork, the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard, the Radcliffe… More

Apr 17, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

Honoring All Expertise: Social Responsibility and Ethics in Tech

featuring Kathy Pham & Friends from the Berkman Klein Community

Learn more about social responsibility and ethics in tech from cross functional perspectives featuring social scientists, computer scientists, historians, lawyers, political… More

Mar 6, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

The Accuracy, Fairness, and Limits of Predicting Recidivism

featuring Julia Dressel

COMPAS is a software used across the country to predict who will commit future crimes. It doesn’t perform any better than untrained people who responded to an online survey. More

Jan 30, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

The “Monkey Selfie” Case: Can Non-Humans Hold Copyrights?

featuring a panel of experts on copyright, cyber law, and intermediary liability issues

Can non-human animals own copyrights? Can artificial intelligence machines? Join the Berkman Klein Center, the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program, and the HLS Student… More

Oct 10, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

HUBweek 2017: Programming the Future of AI

Ethics, Governance, and Justice

How do we prepare court systems, judges, lawyers, and defendants to interact with autonomous systems? What are the potential societal costs to human autonomy, dignity, and due… More

Jul 11, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Weapons of Math Destruction

How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Please join us for a timely discussion of the role of data science in public life. All are welcome at this free event open to the public! More

Apr 4, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Algorithmic Consumers

with Professors Michal Gal, University of Haifa, and Niva Elkin-Koren, Visting Professor of Law at HLS

Hate shopping? The next generation of e-commerce will be conducted by digital agents, based on algorithms that will not only make purchase recommendations, but will also predict… More


People 06

Team

Urs Gasser

Director

Joi Ito

Faculty Associate