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Algorithms and the Rule of Law

  • Rónán Kennedy

In this short article Rónán Kennedy explores fundamental issues surrounding the use of algorithms in the context of the rule of law in our society. He states, ‘The issues that are buried in these systems should be a matter of serious concern for law and lawyers as we try to protect fundamental values in the 21st century, and we try to properly represent our clients’ interests against systems errors that we cannot easily identify’.*

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1 Emma Whitford, ‘With ‘Tenant Assured,’ Landlords Have An EZ Way To Sift Through Your Entire Online Profile’ The Gothamist (10 June 2016).

2 Nicholas Diakopoulos, ‘We need to know the algorithms the government uses to make important decisions about us’ The Conversation (24 May 2016).

3 Megan Garber, ‘When Algorithms Take the Stand’ The Atlantic (30 June 2016).

4 Wisconsin v Loomis 2016 WI 68.

5 Tom Simonite, ‘How to Upgrade Judges with Machine Learning’ MIT Technology Review (6 March 2017).

6 Jon Fingas, ‘Parking ticket chat bot now helps refugees claim asylum’ Engadget (6 March 2017).

7 Jana Kasperkevic, ‘Google says sorry for racist auto-tag in photo app’ The Guardian (1 July 2015).

8 Elle Hunt, ‘‘Three black teenagers’: anger as Google image search shows police mugshots’ The Guardian (9 June 2016).

9 Emily Cohn, ‘Google Image Search Has A Gender Bias Problem’ The Huffington Post (21 April 2015).

10 Michael Nunez, ‘Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News’ Gizmodo (9 May 2016).

11 Megan Geuss, ‘DOJ indicts 6 Volkswagen executives, automaker will pay $4.3 billion in plea deal’ Ars Technica (11 January 2017).

12 Hiroko Tabuchi, ‘E.P.A. Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Secretly Violating Emissions Standards’ New York Times (13 January 2017).

13 Citron, Danielle Keats, ‘Technological Due Process’ (2008) 85 Washington University Law Review 1249 .

14 Julia Carpenter, ‘Google's algorithm shows prestigious job ads to men, but not to women. Here's why that should worry you’ The Washington Post (6 July 2015).

15 Cyrus Farivar, ‘Lawyers: New court software is so awful it's getting people wrongly arrested’ Ars Technica (12 January 2016).

16 Christopher Knaus, ‘Centrelink debt notices based on ‘idiotic’ faith in big data, IT expert says’ The Guardian (29 December 2016).

* The editor of Legal Information Management is grateful to Laurence Eastham, the Editor of Computers & Law, and the author, Rónán Kennedy for permitting this article to be reprinted in LIM. The original article was published in Computers & Law as follows: Rónán Kennedy (2017) ‘Algorithms and the Rule of Law’. Computers and Law, April/May, 23–25.

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Legal Information Management
  • ISSN: 1472-6696
  • EISSN: 1741-2021
  • URL: /core/journals/legal-information-management
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