Preserving Paradata for Accountability of Semi-Autonomous Ai Agents in Dynamic Environments: An Archival Perspective

30 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2024

See all articles by Scott Cameron

Scott Cameron

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Babak Hamidzadeh

University of Maryland


This paper proposes the category of real-time artificial intelligence (AI) systems as an application of computerized control systems in dynamic, time-constrained contexts normally managed by human intelligence. Noting the accountability challenges which these systems introduce, the paper posits the need for robust documentation and records capacities within these systems. The paper surveys four real-time AI systems with significant records needs: autonomous vehicles, online content targeting systems, mixed-reality tools for surgical contexts, and digital twin systems in airport facilities management. The paper identifies paradata, or the data leading up to an output in a system’s operation, as a key data category necessitating preservation for full transparency in the records generated by these systems. Paradata is defined as “information about the procedure(s) and tools used to create and process information resources, along with information about the persons carrying out those procedures.” Paradata uncovers opaque technological processes underlying the production of other datasets and at a granular level must be identified and preserved to delineate the boundaries between human and system agency in semi-autonomous systems. With a basis in control theory, the paper finally offers a framework for assessing the functions of real-time AI systems' operations and their documentation and records needs.

Keywords: real-time systems, Artificial Intelligence, records, paradata

Suggested Citation

Cameron, Scott and Hamidzadeh, Babak, Preserving Paradata for Accountability of Semi-Autonomous Ai Agents in Dynamic Environments: An Archival Perspective. Available at SSRN: or

Scott Cameron (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

Babak Hamidzadeh

University of Maryland ( email )

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