A wrenching and beautifully argued essay by Virginia Eubanks describes the inevitable consequences of letting secret, unaccountable algorithms decide who is eligible for welfare.
The essay is part of New America's What Drives Innovation Around the Country conference, and it describes the drive to outsource management of critical state services to private firms that control costs by using proprietary, secret algorithms to ascribe suspicion and guilt to members of the public.
It's the no-fly-list model of governance, metastasizing into schools, crime prevention, child benefits, welfare, and every other area of public life.
In December 2007, Indiana resident Sheila Perdue received a notice in the mail that she must participate in a telephone interview in order to be recertified to receive public assistance. In the past, Perdue, who is deaf and suffers from emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and bipolar disorder, would have visited her local caseworker to explain why this was impossible. But the state’s welfare eligibility system had recently been “modernized,” leaving a website and an 800 number as the primary ways to communicate with the Family and Social Services Administration.
Perdue requested and was denied an in-person interview. She gathered her paperwork, traveled to a nearby help center, and requested assistance. Employees at the center referred her to the online system. Uncomfortable with the technology, she asked for help with the online forms and was refused. She filled out the application to the best of her ability. Several weeks later, she learned she was denied recertification. The reason? “Failure to cooperate” in establishing eligibility.
The Policy Machine [Virginia Eubanks/Slate]
Cory published a writeup of my research showing Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs’ plan to build a surveilling city in Toronto involves a much, much larger chunk of land than publicly disclosed (in fact about 2,600 acres of prime Toronto waterfront!). It flushed out a response from the high-priced US PR firm Berlin Rosen, apparently acting […]
In 2015, a scandal involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund brought down the country's authoritarian government, amid allegations that the disgraced ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak and his retinue embezzled $4.5 billion from the fund.
Charter-Spectrum has settled a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General that accused the company of defrauding New Yorkers through false advertising about the data-speeds they could expect from their plans (among other things, the AG accused Charter of supplying customers with modems that were too slow to attain the speeds they'd paid for).
Want a career in web design? It’s true that these days, most anyone can throw up a page or two. But for true workhorse web design, you’ll sometimes need to match the platform to the project. Enter the Complete Front-End Developer Bundle, an educational grand tour around the best tools for the web. For beginners, […]
Things move fast in the world of social media, and they don’t slow down for marketers looking to make an impact. Whether you’re grabbing eyeballs for a major company or a local business, you’ll need to adjust your strategy for every platform. Don’t have a strategy to begin with? That’s where the Social Media Marketing […]
It’s a rude awakening for that rookie vacationer abroad when they try to plug in their gear for the night. Veteran jet-setters know that outlet shapes can vary wildly from country to country, which necessitates that most boring must-have for any world-traveler: A sackful of clunky power adapters. Awkward problem, elegant solution: The Twist Plus […]