Contestability in Algorithmic Systems

1. Identifying Contestability in Current Systems


Urban Design

Facial Recognition

2. Connecting Contestability to Values

  • Users need to understand decision making systems before they can shape and influence them — connecting to work on explainability.
  • Users feeling that their voice has been heard in decision making systems can help develop trust.
  • Transparency can help users understand enough to contest decision making processes, but as others have argued before, transparency can also be used to confuse, obscure or even endanger other users.

3. Identifying Types of Contestation

  • I don’t like how I’m being measured
  • I don’t like that I’m being measured
  • I don’t agree with this specific prediction
  • I don’t agree with the target outcomes
  • I don’t agree with the data selected for training
  • I don’t agree with the features being used
  • I don’t agree with the model chosen

What should we aim for?

Designing for users to be able to change or influence the system will often mean they can game the system.

Who participates?

But choosing to contest decisions takes time, energy, expertise and an expectation that they will be listened to. So not everyone participates equally.

How do we develop community and processes?

This consensus-building discussion worked so well because Wikipedia has an existing community of editors and established processes for discussion.




PhD Candidate @University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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Kristen Vaccaro

Kristen Vaccaro

PhD Candidate @University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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