ACM Europe Council, Informatics Europe Release Recommendations on Automated Decision Making

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM, 8 March 2018—The Association for Computing Machinery’s ACM Europe Policy Committee and ACM Europe Council joined with Informatics Europe today to offer policy makers and industry 10 specific recommendations addressing the challenges posed by the increasing presence of Machine Learning (ML) and Automated Decision Making (ADM) systems in almost every aspect of modern life. The recommendations were published as a white paper “When Computers Decide: European Recommendations on Machine-Learned Automated Decision Making.” This new report outlines the technical, ethical, legal, economic, societal and educational ramifications of ADM to be considered.

The topics raised in the “When Computers Decide” white paper will be the focus of a panel discussion of leading computer scientists and European Commission leaders at the Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place on 15 March 2018, 17:45 - 18:45. Panelists include:

  • Jim Larus (Moderator), Professor and Dean of the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
  • Oliver Grau, Associate Director of Operations, Intel Visual Computing Institute, Germany
  • Chris Hankin, Co-Director of the Institute for Security Science and Technology and Professor of Computing Science at Imperial College London
  • Johannes Klumpers, Head of the Scientific Advisory Mechanism, EU Commission DG Research and Innovation
  • Lucilla Sioli, Director of Digital Industry, EU Commission DG CONNECT

Substantial advances over the past decade in machine learning techniques have produced systems that sometimes rival or even exceed human ability at challenging, ambiguous, and highly skilled tasks such as image and speech recognition, radiological image analysis, game play, and others. Today, due to very recent breakthroughs in deep neural network technology, these ML-powered ADM systems can both augment human decision making or, in some cases, replace it with a fully autonomous system, leading to potentially massive loss of jobs and de-skilling of the humans who hold them. The ethical questions related to ADM systems require a deep understanding and incorporation of ethics throughout the design of the technology. Social and moral values should no longer be seen simply as “risk factors” or constraints, but as primary drivers and shapers of innovation.

The “When Computers Decide” white paper makes 10 recommendations to policy leaders, discussed in detail in the report:

  1. Establish means, measures and standards to assure that ADM systems are fair.
  2. Ensure that ethics remain at the forefront of, and integral to, ADM development and deployment.
  3. Promote value-sensitive ADM design.
  4. Define clear legal responsibilities for ADM’s use and impacts.
  5. Ensure that the economic consequences of ADM adoption are fully considered.
  6. Mandate that all privacy and data acquisition practices of ADM deployers be clearly disclosed to all users of such systems.
  7. Increase public funding for non-commercial ADM-related research significantly.
  8. Foster ADM-related technical education at the university level.
  9. Complement technical education with comparable social education.
  10. Expand the public’s awareness and understanding of ADM and its impacts.


The ACM Europe Policy Committee (EUACM)  is a standing committee of ACM Europe. It serves as the focal point for ACM’s interactions with governmental bodies in Europe, the computing community, and the public in matters of European public policy related to computing and technology. ACM Europe Policy Committee statements represent the views of the Committee and do not necessarily represent the views of the Association.

About the ACM Europe Council

The ACM Europe Council aims to increase the level and visibility of ACM activities across Europe. The Council is comprised of European computer scientists and practitioners who are committed to fostering the visibility and relevance of ACM in Europe, and is focused on a wide range of European ACM activities, from high-quality ACM conferences in Europe, to expanding ACM chapters, to encouraging greater participation of Europeans in all dimensions of ACM.

About Informatics Europe

Informatics Europe represents the academic and research community in Informatics in Europe and neighbouring countries. It brings together university departments and research laboratories, creating a strong common voice to promote, shape and stimulate quality research, education, and knowledge transfer in Informatics in Europe. Informatics Europe is a non-profit membership association based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Jim Ormond

Adam Eisgrau
ACM Global Policy Director

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