Understanding Accountability in Algorithmic Supply Chains

2023 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT '23)

12 Pages Posted: 17 May 2023

See all articles by Jennifer Cobbe

Jennifer Cobbe

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Michael Veale

University College London, Faculty of Laws

Jatinder Singh

University of Cambridge -- Dept. Computer Science & Technology (Computer Laboratory)

Date Written: April 7, 2023

Abstract

Academic and policy proposals on algorithmic accountability often seek to understand algorithmic systems in their socio-technical context, recognising that they are produced by ‘many hands’. Increasingly, however, algorithmic systems are also produced, deployed, and used within a supply chain comprising multiple actors tied together by flows of data between them. In such cases, it is the working together of an algorithmic supply chain of different actors who contribute to the production, deployment, use, and functionality that drives systems and produces particular outcomes. We argue that algorithmic accountability discussions must consider supply chains and the difficult implications they raise for the governance and accountability of algorithmic systems. In doing so, we explore algorithmic supply chains, locating them in their broader technical and political economic context and identifying some key features that should be understood in future work on algorithmic governance and accountability (particularly regarding general purpose AI services). To highlight ways forward and areas warranting attention, we further discuss some implications raised by supply chains: challenges for allocating accountability stemming from distributed responsibility for systems between actors, limited visibility due to the accountability horizon, service models of use and liability, and cross-border supply chains and regulatory arbitrage.

Note:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Keywords: algorithmic accountability, supply chains, AI as a Service, general purpose AI, accountability horizon, political economy

JEL Classification: k2, k24, l1, l22, l4, l5, l8, l86

Suggested Citation

Cobbe, Jennifer and Veale, Michael and Singh, Jatinder, Understanding Accountability in Algorithmic Supply Chains (April 7, 2023). 2023 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT '23), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4430778

Jennifer Cobbe (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

Michael Veale

University College London, Faculty of Laws ( email )

Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens
London, WC1E OEG
United Kingdom

Jatinder Singh

University of Cambridge -- Dept. Computer Science & Technology (Computer Laboratory) ( email )

15 JJ Thomson Avenue
William Gates Building
Cambridge, CB3 0FD
United Kingdom

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