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Published: 2020-11-13

New project will analyse human and artificial decision making

NEWS The project ‘HYDE – Human agency and the rule of law in semi-automated decision-making systems’ was recently granted 5,8 million SEK from the Swedish Research Council.

Text: Sofia Strömgren

- This is wonderful news! We have had a really good collaboration in the project group when writing the application, and we are eager to get started with the research, says Markus Naarttijärvi, Project leader (PI) and associate professor at the Department of Law.

The project will study legal issues raised by the increased use of semi-automatized decision making in domains that carries implications for fundamental rights, specifically within law enforcement, social welfare systems and online content moderation. These are areas where demands of increased efficiency and digitalization have been raised by policy makers, and systems are increasingly implemented where human decision makers interact with algorithmic decision-making systems. This lays the foundation for a form of hybrid decisions that combines human and artificial intelligence, which carry implications for who will be the subject of police interest, denied welfare benefits, or what content that will be ruled as disinformation or offensive online.
- The legal prerequisites for the use of these types of decision-making systems are to a large extent unexplored. As courts and regulatory agencies are beginning to scrutinize their application, problems concerning legality, transparency and proportionality are increasingly brought to light. We can see that even when these systems operate with some human control, many legal uncertainties and risks still remains, says Markus Naarttijärvi.

The researchers are hoping to be able to clarify the responsibilities of human decision makers acting within hybrid decision making systems, and also how these systems impact human decision making and the ability to make independent assessments. The goal is to generate new knowledge on how hybrid decision making systems can be regulated and implemented to avoid conflicts with legal rights and demands.

The four-year project includes associate professor Markus Naarttijärvi, associate professor Therese Enarsson, assistant professor Lena Enkvist, all from the Department of Law at Umeå University, and assistant professor Daniel Nyhlén from the Department of Informatics, Umeå University. The group was founded as a result of activities within the Centre for Digital Social Research (DIGSUM), Umeå University.
- This project would not have been possible if not for DIGSUM, both because of the inspiring environment which generates new research questions, and the possibilities to meet new partners for collaboration, concludes Markus Naarttijärvi.

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