Sign In

Communications of the ACM


Accountability in Algorithmic Decision Making

Accountability in Algorithmic Decision Making, illustration

Credit: Bahri Altay

back to top 

Every fiscal quarter, automated writing algorithms churn out thousands of corporate earnings articles for the Associated Press based on little more than structured data. Companies such as Automated Insights, which produces the articles for the AP, and Narrative Science can now write straight news articles in almost any domain that has clean and well-structured data: finance, sure, but also sports, weather, and education, among others. The articles are not cardboard either; they have variability, tone, and style, and in some cases readers even have difficulty distinguishing the machine-produced articles from human-written ones.4

It is difficult to argue with the scale, speed, and labor-saving cost advantage that such systems afford. But the trade-off for media organizations appears to be nuance and accuracy. A quick search on Google for "'generated by Automated Insights' correction'" yields results for thousands of articles that were automatically written, published, and then had to have corrections issued. The errors range from relatively innocuous ones about where a company is based, to more substantial wrong word choices—missing instead of beating earnings expectations, for example. Were any of these market-moving errors? Was the root cause bad data, a faulty inference, or sloppy engineering? What is the right way to post corrections?


No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account