Use of Algorithms in Public Administration - What are the Ethical Concerns? – University of Copenhagen

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Engagement and Diversity in the World of Data Science

While data science has without a doubt proven its enormous potential over the last decade or so, the new field is still trying to find its place in academia and society at large. In the 2019 spring lecture series, The Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) has invited scholars that will present their work that in one aspect or another address questions of, and experiments with, diversity and public engagement in the world of data science.

Use of Algorithms in Public Administration - What are the Ethical Concerns?

The speakers for the third SODAS Lecture of the spring will be Peter Sandøe, Professor & Sune Hannibal Holm, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen.


Automated and decision-supporting algorithmic systems are finding their way into public administration. These hold great promises e.g. in terms of more effective administration throughout the public sector. On the other hand, there is a worry we are sleepwalking into an era of algocratic rule, which will erode fundamental liberal rights and values.
In this talk we will present some preliminary suggestions for an ethical framework for algorithmic governance. More specifically we will analyse how concerns concerning privacy, transparency and responsibility can best be interpreted and respected in a society, where there is an accelerating increase in the collection, processing and utilization of personal data to make decisions that affect the lives of citizens.
In the course of analyzing the three notions and outlining the framework we will also consider the following questions: “Should public institutions use personal data to develop predictive algorithms that may be applied in automated or semi-automated decisions-making processes about individual citizens?”, “Should citizens be subjected to algorithmic profiling?”, and “Are algorithmic decision-making systems really so bad when compared to our knowledge about the quality of unassisted human decisions”?

The lecture will take place at SODAS' new location in building 1, 2nd floor, room 26 (1.2.26) of the CSS Campus, University of Copenhagen, from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm.

If you have questions or want to know more, please write Agnete Vienberg Hansen at