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Towards the Socio-Algorithmic Construction of Fairness: The Case of Automatic Price-Surging in Ride-Hailing


Dolata, Mateusz; Schwabe, Gerhard (2024). Towards the Socio-Algorithmic Construction of Fairness: The Case of Automatic Price-Surging in Ride-Hailing. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 40(1):55-65.

Abstract

Algorithms take decisions that affect humans, and have been shown to perpetuate biases and discrimination. Decisions by algorithms are subject to different interpretations. Algorithms’ behaviors are basis for the construal of moral assessment and standards. Yet we lack an understanding of how algorithms impact on social construction processes, and vice versa. Without such understanding, social construction processes may be disrupted and, eventually, may impede moral progress in society. We analyze the public discourse that emerged after a significant (five-fold) price-surge following the Brooklyn Subway Shooting on April 12 2022, in New York City. There was much controversy around the two ride-hailing firms’ algorithms’ decisions. The discussions evolved around various notions of fairness and the algorithms’ decisions’ justifiability. Our results indicate that algorithms, even if not explicitly addressed in the discourse, strongly impact on constructing fairness assessments and notions. They initiate the exchange, form people’s expectations, evoke people’s solidarity with specific groups, and are a vehicle for moral crusading. However, they are also subject to adjustments based on social forces. We claim that the process of constructing notions of fairness is no longer just social; it has become a socio-algorithmic process. We propose a theory of socio-algorithmic construction as a mechanism for establishing notions of fairness and other ethical constructs.

Abstract

Algorithms take decisions that affect humans, and have been shown to perpetuate biases and discrimination. Decisions by algorithms are subject to different interpretations. Algorithms’ behaviors are basis for the construal of moral assessment and standards. Yet we lack an understanding of how algorithms impact on social construction processes, and vice versa. Without such understanding, social construction processes may be disrupted and, eventually, may impede moral progress in society. We analyze the public discourse that emerged after a significant (five-fold) price-surge following the Brooklyn Subway Shooting on April 12 2022, in New York City. There was much controversy around the two ride-hailing firms’ algorithms’ decisions. The discussions evolved around various notions of fairness and the algorithms’ decisions’ justifiability. Our results indicate that algorithms, even if not explicitly addressed in the discourse, strongly impact on constructing fairness assessments and notions. They initiate the exchange, form people’s expectations, evoke people’s solidarity with specific groups, and are a vehicle for moral crusading. However, they are also subject to adjustments based on social forces. We claim that the process of constructing notions of fairness is no longer just social; it has become a socio-algorithmic process. We propose a theory of socio-algorithmic construction as a mechanism for establishing notions of fairness and other ethical constructs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Human Factors and Ergonomics
Physical Sciences > Human-Computer Interaction
Physical Sciences > Computer Science Applications
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:2 January 2024
Deposited On:13 Jun 2023 13:13
Last Modified:30 May 2024 01:42
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1044-7318
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/10447318.2023.2210887
Official URL:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10447318.2023.2210887
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:23716
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)