Skip to main content

NYC’s algorithm task force was ‘a waste,’ member says

NYC’s algorithm task force was ‘a waste,’ member says

/

Not everyone is pleased with the city’s final report

Share this story

New York City has released its long-awaited report on government algorithms, but not everyone is happy with the result.

“This is a sad precedent.”

In 2017, the city passed a local law to national fanfare. The legislation, Local Law 49, established a task force with the goal of examining how hidden algorithms oversee life in the city. Local stakeholders and advocates were convened, and charged with producing a report with recommendations for using automated tools.

But the task force quickly grew tense, as some members questioned the city’s commitment to transparency. Members of the task force said they had to push to be given examples of automated tools used by the city, among other issues.

The final report from the task force was released yesterday, but it isn’t what every member hoped for. “It’s a waste, really,” says Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute and a member of the task force. “This is a sad precedent.”

Ultimately, she says, the report, penned by city officials, “reflects the city’s view and disappointingly fails to leave out a lot of the dissenting views of task force members.” Members of the task force were given presentations on automated systems that Whittaker says “felt more like pitches or endorsements.” Efforts to make specific policy changes, like developing informational cards on algorithms, were scrapped, she says.

The 33-page report released instead makes broader recommendations. The report suggests the city make organizational changes in the government to manage the use of algorithms, and establish formal ways for reporting the use of such systems.

The report also suggests creating a process to determine whether some systems have a disproportionate affect on certain communities. Whittaker says the report is so broad the city could have produced it without convening the task force.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the city said the task force “was the first of its kind in the country, and it tackled the complex issues around the systems and tools our city uses to help us make decisions that affect millions of New Yorkers.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a separate announcement yesterday, issued an executive order creating an “algorithms management and policy officer” in the city government.

“The Task Force included people with diverse backgrounds in research, government, the private sector, advocacy, and human rights, among others,” the spokesperson said. “While not everyone agreed on every issue, discussions over 18 months resulted in a final report that met consensus.” 

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago Not just you

E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothTwo hours ago
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma Roth5:52 PM UTC
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.