BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Algorithmic pollution: making the invisible visible

    Cecez-Kecmanovic, D. and Marjanovic, O. and Vidgen, Richard (2021) Algorithmic pollution: making the invisible visible. Journal of Information Technology 36 (4), pp. 391-408. ISSN 02683962.

    42980a.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

    Download (508kB) | Preview


    In this paper, we focus on the growing evidence of unintended harmful societal effects of automated algorithmic decision-making (AADM) in transformative services (e.g., social welfare, healthcare, education, policing and criminal justice), for individuals, communities and society at large. Drawing from the long-established research on social pollution, in particular its contemporary ‘pollution-as-harm’ notion, we put forward a claim - and provide evidence - that these harmful effects constitute a new type of digital social pollution, which we name ‘algorithmic pollution’. Words do matter, and by using the term ‘pollution’, not as a metaphor or an analogy, but as a transformative redefinition of the digital harm performed by AADM, we seek to make it visible and recognized. By adopting a critical performative perspective, we explain how the execution of AADM produces harm and thus performs algorithmic pollution. Recognition of the potential for unintended harmful effects of algorithmic pollution, and their examination as such, leads us to articulate the need for transformative actions to prevent, detect, redress, mitigate, and educate about algorithmic harm. These actions, in turn, open up new research challenges for the information systems community.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
    Depositing User: Richard Vidgen
    Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2021 14:10
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:50


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item