The Digital Transformation of Decision-Making

The Digital Transformation of Decision-Making refers to the way in which algorithms, data, and artificial intelligence (AI) affect markets and society, changing democratic processes, commercial value chains, public administration, and how public values are being realized – or challenged. We will focus on automated decision-making (ADM) systems, which are set to replace human decision makers in a range of areas, from justice, to media, commerce, health and labor. ADM shifts decision-making power and infrastructure to entities that produce, collect and aggregate data, build models and optimize algorithms. This creates new dependencies on (commercial) technology companies that harbor the unique expertise, innovation and control over data needed for ADM, and new challenges for the governance of decision-making.

The overarching research question for the research initiative is: What are the normative implications of the shift from human to automated decision-making, focusing particularly on the role of platforms and data as key actors and commodity in this process.

The initiative consists of 3 interrelated research clusters:

  • Realization of fundamental rights and public values. These are normative underpinnings of the initiative. The digitalization of decision-making affects democratic values and the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms. A key challenge is to ensure these values are upheld in the online environment.
  • Private platform ordering. Platforms are key actors in the evolving ADM landscape and shape the way in which rights and values are conceptualized and realized. This challenges existing legal safeguards (such as freedom of expression, transparency and due process) and raises new questions about responsibilities.
  • Data Governance. Platforms play a central role in ADM because of the wealth of data they capture from users. Data is at the heart of monetization and governance processes. Since data is both input, and output for ADM, the way in which control over, and access to data is regulated forms a critical element of the question how to govern platforms, and how to realize rights and values in an ADM context.


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