Measuring Automated Influence: Between Empirical Evidence and Ethical Values

Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society

12 Pages Posted: 24 May 2021

See all articles by Daniel Susser

Daniel Susser

Penn State

Vincent Grimaldi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

Automated influence, delivered by digital targeting technologies such as targeted advertising, digital nudges, and recommender systems, has attracted significant interest from both empirical researchers, on one hand, and critical scholars and policymakers on the other. In this paper, we argue for closer integration of these efforts. Critical scholars and policymakers, who focus primarily on the social, ethical, and political effects of these technologies, need empirical evidence to substantiate and motivate their concerns. However, existing empirical research investigating the effectiveness of these technologies (or lack thereof), neglects other morally relevant effects—which can be felt regardless of whether or not the technologies "work" in the sense of fulfilling the promises of their designers. Drawing from the ethics and policy literature, we enumerate a range of questions begging for empirical analysis—the outline of a research agenda bridging these fields—and issue a call to action for more empirical research that takes these urgent ethics and policy questions as their starting point.

Keywords: influence, targeted advertising, dark patterns, nudges, privacy, autonomy

Suggested Citation

Susser, Daniel and Grimaldi, Vincent, Measuring Automated Influence: Between Empirical Evidence and Ethical Values (2021). Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3848919

Daniel Susser (Contact Author)

Penn State ( email )

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University Park, PA 16802
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danielsusser.info

Vincent Grimaldi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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