A Canadian Algorithmic Impact Assessment

“The Allegory of Good Government,” Lorenzetti, 1338–39.

Enter the Algorithmic Impact Assessment

Understanding Automation Impact

  • Part A — What impact will my program have on various aspects of society or the planet?
  • Part B — How much judgement will our automated system be delegated? Do humans choose the variables of the decision, or does the system? Is there a human in the loop?
  • Low Concern — 0–9 pts
  • Moderate Concern — 9–24 pts
  • High Concern — 25–49 pts
  • Very High Concern — Over 50 pts
  • It’s impossible for non-partisan public servants to rank priorities over one another; this is more of a political exercise.
  • Legislative realities make such a ranking impossible. For example, a program manager at Environment and Climate Change Canada is working under authorities that instruct them to worry about the environment as a higher priority than most others. Someone in Finance Canada might rank the test entirely differently.
  • The test biases heavily against systems that determine their own criteria to make a decision. Is this fair? Are humans necessarily better at determining criteria for making a decision?
  • There is no reference to cultural or linguistic integrity of a community; should there be?
  • Is the scoring system too strict? Not strict enough? Should we err on the side of caution for a couple of years and then evaluate?

One assessment of many

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Hi! I’m Michael and I write about digital policy and government.

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Hi! I’m Michael and I write about digital policy and government.

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