From deciding whether or not a tax return should trigger an audit, to determining which refugee claimants will be given status in Canada, administrative officials around the country make thousands of decisions every day that fundamentally affect the lives of Canadians. But these officials – and all Canadians – are entering an era of “artificial administration”, where human decision-making may be displaced or replaced by sophisticated information technology in the form of predictive analytics and deep learning. This begs the question: when is it appropriate for administrative officials to rely on machines in making decisions that affect Canadians?
Professor Paul Daly has recently earned an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a project entitled Artificial Administration: Administrative Law, Administrative Justice and Accountability Mechanisms in the Age of Machines. Building on his expertise in administrative law and his experience as a data-analytics entrepreneur, Professor Daly’s project will be among the first research initiatives in Canada to delve into the vitally important issue of “artificial administration”.
Working from an interdisciplinary perspective that will integrate insights from computer science, digital humanities, engineering, law and public policy, this research will explore the role information technology can play in contemporary public administration. An innovative new framework for the use of “artificial administrative” will be generated from the existing literature on the nature of the sophisticated deep-learning techniques, the norms of administrative law and administrative justice and accountability mechanisms for the exercise of public power. Ultimately, this project will aim to develop a set of principles for the effective and responsible use of “artificial administration” in government.
The Common Law Section wishes the best of luck to Professor Daly on this fascinating and timely project!