Data-driven policy and commerce requires algorithmic transparency

Alex Howard, Feb 03, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Just for the record: the next phase of VC-backed MOOCs is going to meet the same comeuppance as the first phase. See where they say here and here where 'big data' will save education. Their lesson comes via this post from Tech Republic. If you're depending on big data, how do you know the game hasn't been rigged, that you're getting results instead of advertising, that your inferences are reliable? "Our world, awash in data, will require new techniques to ensure algorithmic accountability, leading the next-generation of computational journalists to file Freedom of Information requests for code, not just data, enabling them to reverse engineer how decisions and policies are being made by programs in the public and private sectors. To do otherwise would allow data-driven decision making to live inside of a black box, ruled by secret codes, hidden from the public eye or traditional methods of accountability." See also a recent post on Inform.Ed, Big Data in Education: Big Potential or Big Mistake, via Marco Molinaro.

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