Book: The Black Box Society
The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information
–- Frank Pasquale
Frank Pasquale exposes how powerful interests abuse secrecy for profit and explains ways to rein them in. Demanding transparency is only the first step. An intelligible society would assure that key decisions of its most important firms are fair, nondiscriminatory, and open to criticism. Silicon Valley and Wall Street need to accept as much accountability as they impose on others.
As a lawyer, Pasquale looks at the problem from the outside in, considering the civil structure in which data-collection algorithms are embedded and how we could potentially regulate abusive and harmful uses of the data while still enabling beneficial “big data” studies.
– Times Higher Education:
This book’s subtitle could easily have been taken further: it is not just money and information that is at stake. The algorithmic control that law scholar Frank Pasquale eloquently and intelligently details and analyses goes beyond money and information and into almost every aspect of our lives. For this reason, although it might appear merely to be a book about technology and finance, The Black Box Society, ultimately, is a radical and political work that deserves wide attention.
– New Republic:
The Black Box Society is a tour of how computational intelligence has come to dominate three important parts of American life: reputation, search, and finance. Pasquale is invoking a couple different concepts with the title. Like a black box on an airplane, these algorithms take information from the noise around them; like a black box in computer science, they are hidden systems, only observable from the outside in terms of their inputs and outputs. But more like black holes, the algorithms are visible in their effects on their surroundings. Our economy—and the many vital life processes it manages—twists and turns based on the say-so of inscrutable mathematical processes.
– A very good interview in which Frank Pasquale talks about how his book came to be (it took 10 years to write it):
As Google grew in the early 2000s, the primary policy question seemed to be: “how do we get law out of the way of this company so it can keep organizing the internet?”
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