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Artificial intelligence, transparency, and public decision-making Why explanations are key when trying to produce perceived legitimacy

Journal article
Authors K. D. Licht
Jenny De Fine Licht
Published in Ai & Society
Pages 10
ISSN 0951-5666
Publication year 2020
Published at School of Public Administration
Pages 10
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00146-020-00960...
Keywords Artificial intelligence, Transparency, Public decision-making, Perceived, legitimacy, Explainability, Framework, quality, science, model, Computer Science
Subject categories Other Social Sciences

Abstract

The increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for making decisions in public affairs has sparked a lively debate on the benefits and potential harms of self-learning technologies, ranging from the hopes of fully informed and objectively taken decisions to fear for the destruction of mankind. To prevent the negative outcomes and to achieve accountable systems, many have argued that we need to open up the "black box" of AI decision-making and make it more transparent. Whereas this debate has primarily focused on how transparency can secure high-quality, fair, and reliable decisions, far less attention has been devoted to the role of transparency when it comes to how the general public come to perceive AI decision-making as legitimate and worthy of acceptance. Since relying on coercion is not only normatively problematic but also costly and highly inefficient, perceived legitimacy is fundamental to the democratic system. This paper discusses how transparency in and about AI decision-making can affect the public's perception of the legitimacy of decisions and decision-makers and produce a framework for analyzing these questions. We argue that a limited form of transparency that focuses on providing justifications for decisions has the potential to provide sufficient ground for perceived legitimacy without producing the harms full transparency would bring.

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