Governance of algorithms: options and limitations

Florian Saurwein (Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ - Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Natascha Just (Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ - Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland)
Michael Latzer (Media Change & Innovation Division, IPMZ - Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland)

info

ISSN: 1463-6697

Publication date: 14 September 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of governance choice in the area of algorithmic selection. Algorithms on the Internet shape our daily lives and realities. They select information, automatically assign relevance to them and keep people from drowning in an information flood. The benefits of algorithms are accompanied by risks and governance challenges.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on empirical case analyses and a review of the literature, the paper chooses a risk-based governance approach. It identifies and categorizes applications of algorithmic selection and attendant risks. Then, it explores the range of institutional governance options and discusses applied and proposed governance measures for algorithmic selection and the limitations of governance options.

Findings

Analyses reveal that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for the governance of algorithms. Attention has to shift to multi-dimensional solutions and combinations of governance measures that mutually enable and complement each other. Limited knowledge about the developments of markets, risks and the effects of governance interventions hampers the choice of an adequate governance mix. Uncertainties call for risk and technology assessment to strengthen the foundations for evidence-based governance.

Originality/value

The paper furthers the understanding of governance choice in the area of algorithmic selection with a structured synopsis on rationales, options and limitations for the governance of algorithms. It provides a functional typology of applications of algorithmic selection, a comprehensive overview of the risks of algorithmic selection and a systematic discussion of governance options and its limitations.

Keywords

Citation

Saurwein, F., Just, N. and Latzer, M. (2015), "Governance of algorithms: options and limitations", info, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 35-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/info-05-2015-0025

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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