A novel idea to fix algorithms

Algorithm
Algorithm
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A novel idea to fix algorithms

A new op-ed in suggests creating an approvals process for algorithms based on the way the Federal Drug Administration tests new drugs.
August 16, 2019

Social media algorithms have received much blame for encouraging political polarization nationwide but solutions to the issue have proven elusive. A new op-ed in Wired suggests a novel approach to tackling the problem: Create an approvals process for algorithms based on the way the Federal Drug Administration tests new drugs. Basically, a new oversight body consisting of tech experts, psychologists, economists, and other experts would examine how proposed social media algorithms would affect society at large, whether by allowing bots to manipulate public opinion or simply encouraging addictive behavior among social media users. Some algorithms, like nutritional supplements, would need minimal oversight. Others, like prescription drugs, would require a more rigorous regulatory process. 

Could this actually happen? There is plenty of pushback against the idea of creating more government oversight over social media, especially given the implications for free speech. However, if there is one lesson to be learned in the political environment of 2019 it is this: Anything can happen. With time, adopting an FDA-style process to vetting algorithms might not appear so far-fetched.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State and its sister publication, New York Nonprofit Media.
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