10 December 2018, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels

organised by Law, Science, Technology & Society Research Group and Privacy Salon with support of Open Society Foundations

Recently there have been increased calls for scrutiny of the role that algorithms play in society. Algorithms influence life-changing decisions, yet to-date the transparency about how these models operate remain firmly limited while their impact is expected to be immense. Who is responsible for their introduction, integration, fairness and accuracy? What democratic governance structures are proposed, if made available at all? Who procures, monitors and regulates their use? What can be done about algorithmic bias? What bias and impact beyond that is inherent to the data and algorithms do these systems produce? What are the social and ethical consequences of algorithms for individuals, groups, communities, institutions and societies? What are avenues for critique of, engagement with and resistance to algorithms and to algorithmically mediated institutions?

There has been a growing discussion on the regulation of and the impact of algorithms on society for some time. However, these discussions have been driven mainly by examples from the US and have stuck to a very general level. In the discussions, algorithmic practices and their impact in Europe and more specifically in the public sector have remained rather invisible. There is a clear need for examples and voices from Europe to inform and enhance the debate about the challenges posed to societies by algorithms.

The workshop has the following aims:

  • To convene the community of researchers, civil society representatives, journalists and practitioners working on the impact of algorithms and algorithmic decision- making systems in Europe.

  • To understand what legal, social and ethical issues are at stake with regards to the use of algorithms and algorithmic decision-making systems in Europe.

  • To advance the discussion on the use of algorithms in the area of predictive policing and migration policy in particular.

  • To lay the foundation for the organisation of a larger event in 2019 which has the goal to create an interdisciplinary forum for European researchers and experts working on algorithms and automated decision-making.


8:45 Registration
9:15 Welcome and introductions
by Rosamunde van Brakel (LSTS-VUB) and Seda Gürses (ESAT-KULeuven)
10:15 Coffee break

10:30 Session I: Algorithms and society: the European state of play
moderated by Joris van Hoboken (LSTS-VUB)
10:30-11:15 Presentations by Michael Veale (University College London), Lina Dencik (Data Justice Lab), Fanny Hidvégi (Access Now), Fredrik Cullberg Jansson (The Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate) and Matthias Spielkamp (AlgorithmWatch)
11:15-12:00 Discussion

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00 Session II: Algorithms and predictive policing
moderated by Rosamunde van Brakel (LSTS-VUB)
13:00-13:30 Presentations by Songül Tolan (EC-Joint Research Centre) and Lena Ulbricht (Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society)
13:30-14:30 Discussion

14:30-15:00 Coffee break

15:00 Session III: Algorithms and migration
moderated by Seda Gürses (ESAT-KULeuven)
15:00-15:30 Presentations by Ben Hayes (Transnational Institute/Red Cross) and Linnet Taylor (TILT University of Tilburg)
15:30-16:30 Discussion

16:30 Coffee break

16:45 Field-building, social justice, and automated systems: Who leads and how? Seeta Peña Gangadharan (LSE) and Joris van Hoboken (LSTS-VUB/IVIR UVA)

17:30 Wrap-up by Joris van Hoboken (LSTS-VUB/IVIR UVA)