A Mild Defense of Our New Machine Overlords

70 Vanderbilt Law Review En Banc 87 (2017)

18 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2017 Last revised: 24 May 2017

Date Written: March 28, 2017


We must make policy based on realistic ideas about how machines work. In Plausible Cause, Kiel Brennan-Marquez argues first that "probable cause" is about explanation rather than probability, and second that machines cannot provide the explanations necessary to justify warrants under the Fourth Amendment. While his argument about probable cause has merit, his discussion of machines relies on a hypothetical device that obscures several flaws in the reasoning. As this response essay explains, machines and humans have different strengths, and both are capable of some form of explanation. Going forward, we must examine realistically not only where machines might fail, but also where they can improve upon the failures of a system built with human limitations in mind.

Keywords: machine learning, explanation, interpretability, privacy, policing, Fourth Amendment, law and technology, Big Data

Suggested Citation

Selbst, Andrew D., A Mild Defense of Our New Machine Overlords (March 28, 2017). 70 Vanderbilt Law Review En Banc 87 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941078

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics