Private Accountability in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

From the abstract for Sonia Katyal, Private Accountability in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, 66 UCLA L. REV. 54 (2019):

In this Article, I explore the impending conflict between the protection of civil rights and artificial intelligence (AI). While both areas of law have amassed rich and well-developed areas of scholarly work and doctrinal support, a growing body of scholars are interrogating the intersection between them. This Article argues that the issues surrounding algorithmic accountability demonstrate a deeper, more structural tension within a new generation of disputes regarding law and technology. As I argue, the true promise of AI does not lie in the information we reveal to one another, but rather in the questions it raises about the interaction of technology, property, and civil rights.

For this reason, I argue that we are looking in the wrong place if we look only to the state to address issues of algorithmic accountability. Instead, we must turn to other ways to ensure more transparency and accountability that stem from private industry, rather than public regulation. The issue of algorithmic bias represents a crucial new world of civil rights concerns, one that is distinct in nature from the ones that preceded it. Since we are in a world where the activities of private corporations, rather than the state, are raising concerns about privacy, due process, and discrimination, we must focus on the role of private corporations in addressing the issue. Towards this end, I discuss a variety of tools to help eliminate the opacity of AI, including codes of conduct, impact statements, and whistleblower protection, which I argue carries the potential to encourage greater endogeneity in civil rights enforcement. Ultimately, by examining the relationship between private industry and civil rights, we can perhaps develop a new generation of forms of accountability in the process.

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