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]
A batch of internal Harvard admission-related emails have come into the public domain as part of a lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants, and they reveal that the admissions process is tilted in favor of members of families who are major donors to Harvard.
Facebook is the poster-child for the techlash, the worst offender in the monopolistic bunch, and recent books like Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan (previously) and Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier present variations on the main critiques of Facebook with some […]
The long fight over Do-Not-Track followed a predictable trajectory: a detailed, meaningful pro-privacy system was subverted by big business, and then published as a "standard" that offered virtually no privacy protections.
Speed reading isn’t just an innate skill possessed by a lucky few. Anyone can learn to speed read, and the benefits are endless. The brain can process more information than most people have time to soak up, but you can make that time now with the 2018 Award-Winning Speed Reading Bundle. The first half of […]
Sure, you could use the same old PowerPoint templates for your next business presentation. It’s not like you have bosses or investors to impress. Oh wait, you do? Time to augment that slideshow with Slideshop – the presentation tool that can individualize your pitch while saving you time. Compatible with PowerPoint, Keynote and Google Slides, […]
Multinational companies have used the no-nonsense methodologies of Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma to oil a smooth-running operation for years. What is it? Six Sigma (and its offshoot, Lean Six Sigma) apply the principles of science to business, teaching managers to methodically target waste, maximize output and streamline the flow from producer to consumer. […]