The Managerial Effects of Algorithmic Fairness Activism

AEA Papers & Proceedings, 110 (2020), Forthcoming

17 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2020

See all articles by Bo Cowgill

Bo Cowgill

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Fabrizio Dell'Acqua

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Sandra Matz

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Date Written: January 22, 2020

Abstract

How do ethical arguments affect AI adoption in business? We randomly expose business decision-makers to arguments used in AI fairness activism. Arguments emphasizing the inescapability of algorithmic bias lead managers to abandon AI for manual review by humans and report greater expectations about lawsuits and negative PR. These effects persist even when AI lowers gender and racial disparities, and when engineering investments to address AI fairness are feasible. Emphasis on status quo comparisons yields opposite effects. We also measure the effects of "scientific veneer" in AI ethics arguments. Scientific veneer changes managerial behavior, but does not asymmetrically benefit favorable (vs critical) AI activism.

Suggested Citation

Cowgill, Bo and Dell'Acqua, Fabrizio and Matz, Sandra, The Managerial Effects of Algorithmic Fairness Activism (January 22, 2020). AEA Papers & Proceedings, 110 (2020), Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3523937

Bo Cowgill (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Fabrizio Dell'Acqua

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Sandra Matz

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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