Community Perspectives on the Use of Algorithms by Government

A pilot project exploring whether it is possible to create guidelines for trusted use of algorithms informed by the community. Researchers systematically gathered and analysed community concerns and views about the use of algorithms.  The study relied on structured participatory design workshops with professionals and families who have experience of the child welfare systems in New Zealand and the United States.  Seed funding for this project was provided through the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (SIGKDD) Impact Program for 2018.


Brown, A., Chouldechova, A., Putnam‐Hornstein, E., Tobin, A., & Vaithianathan, R. (2019, April). Toward Algorithmic Accountability in Public Services: A Qualitative Study of Affected Community Perspectives on Algorithmic Decision‐making in Child Welfare Services. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (p. 41). ACM.

Researchers, policy experts, and civil rights groups have all voiced concerns that algorithmic decision-making systems are being deployed without adequate consideration of potential harms, disparate impacts, and public accountability practices. Yet little is known about the concerns of those most likely to be affected by these systems. The authors, including Rhema Vaithianathan report and discuss the findings of workshops conducted to learn about the concerns of affected communities in the context of child welfare services.

Quick facts

Location: New Zealand and United States

Partners: Toi Āria, Massey University (NZ), Carnegie Mellon University (PA, United States), University of Southern California (CA, United States)

Timeframe: 2018-2019