The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com. Keith E. Sonderling is a commissioner on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.The views here are the author's own and should not be attributed to the EEOC or any other member of the commission. With 86 percent of major U.S. corporations predicting that artificial intelligence will become a "mainstream technology" at their company this year, management-by-algorithm is no longer the stuff of science fiction. AI has already transformed the way workers are recruited, hired, trained, evaluated and even fired. One recent study found that 83 percent of human resources leaders rely in some form on technology in employment decision-making.
There is mounting public concern over the influence that AI based systems has in our society. Coalitions in all sectors are acting worldwide to resist hamful applications of AI. From indigenous people addressing the lack of reliable data, to smart city stakeholders, to students protesting the academic relationships with sex trafficker and MIT donor Jeffery Epstein, the questionable ethics and values of those heavily investing in and profiting from AI are under global scrutiny. There are biased, wrongful, and disturbing assumptions embedded in AI algorithms that could get locked in without intervention. Our best human judgment is needed to contain AI's harmful impact. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions of AI will be to make us ultimately understand how important human wisdom truly is in life on earth.
While algorithm audits are growing rapidly in commonality and public importance, relatively little scholarly work has gone toward synthesizing prior work and strategizing future research in the area. This systematic literature review aims to do just that, following PRISMA guidelines in a review of over 500 English articles that yielded 62 algorithm audit studies. The studies are synthesized and organized primarily by behavior (discrimination, distortion, exploitation, and misjudgement), with codes also provided for domain (e.g. search, vision, advertising, etc.), organization (e.g. Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.), and audit method (e.g. sock puppet, direct scrape, crowdsourcing, etc.). The review shows how previous audit studies have exposed public-facing algorithms exhibiting problematic behavior, such as search algorithms culpable of distortion and advertising algorithms culpable of discrimination. Based on the studies reviewed, it also suggests some behaviors (e.g. discrimination on the basis of intersectional identities), domains (e.g. advertising algorithms), methods (e.g. code auditing), and organizations (e.g. Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn) that call for future audit attention. The paper concludes by offering the common ingredients of successful audits, and discussing algorithm auditing in the context of broader research working toward algorithmic justice.