The A-levels algorithm fiasco and algorithmic accountability in practice

August 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Last week, thousands of students in England and Wales received their A-level exam grades. The catch? The grades were the result of an algorithm rather than actual exams. Almost 40% of students received lower grades than they had anticipated. The students were faced with the prospect of missing the opportunity to attend their university of choice. Earlier today, however, the UK Government made a complete U-turn and decided to ignore […]
Transparent to whom? No algorithmic accountability without a critical audience

December 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

Big data and data science transform organizational decision-making. We increasingly defer decisions to algorithms because machines have earned a reputation of outperforming us. As algorithms become embedded within organizations, they become more influential and increasingly opaque. Those who create algorithms may make arbitrary decisions in all stages of the ‘data value chain’, yet these subjectivities are obscured from view. Algorithms come to reflect the biases of their creators, can reinforce […]
Glitch Studies and the Ambiguous Objectivity of Algorithms

June 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

Algorithms play an increasingly central part in our societies. The impact of these quantification objects extends beyond our everyday interactions with information technology. Algorithms contribute to the evidence-base that underpins organisational decision-making of public and private sector organisations. The decisions that algorithms help inform may guide the allocation of substantial resources and consequentially deeply affect the lives of people across the globe. Algorithms are perceived as the state-of-the art and […]
How to build models for government: criteria driving model acceptance in policymaking

December 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

Models are used to inform policymaking and underpin large amounts of government expenditure. Several authors have observed a discrepancy between the actual and potential use of models in government. While there have been several studies investigating model acceptance in government, it remains unclear under what conditions models are accepted. In this paper, we address the question “What criteria affect model acceptance in policymaking?”, the answer to which will contribute to […]
Cooperative robotics and the social side to (big data) modelling

June 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

In a recent podcast by The Economist, Jason Palmer and Ken Cukier reported on something called “cooperative robots”. These are an exciting new breed of robots which aim to benefit optimally from the respective qualities of human and robot. For instance, robots can be very precise and people are adept at creative problem solving. The concept of cooperative robotics is particularly exciting because traditional robotics has focused on mimicking the human brain (artificial intelligence) rather than aiming for robot […]
The Tower of David: Emergence and urban development

May 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Whether it is the design of a new park or the construction of a residential block, urban developments are initiated with a particular use of space in mind. However, it is important to consider that the actual use of space is not dictated on the drawing board. Rather, behaviour is emergent, formed by the interaction of people and place. The “Tower of David” located in Caracas, Venezuela is an excellent […]
Kickstarting Urban Development

March 5, 2013 | 4 Comments

In the current period of economic downturn, many urban (re)development projects are grinding to a halt due to lack of funding. At the same time, recession related grassroot activism such as Occupy shows that citizens wish to be actively engaged in decision-making. Moreover, the success of websites such as Kickstarter demonstrates that crowd-funding offers a viable alternative to traditional venture capital. It is against the backdrop of these developments that […]
Self-organisation: the case of Kowloon Walled City

December 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

Kowloon Walled City, China is an interesting case that illustrates the process of self-organisation in urban development. Since 1898 the fortress-town of Kowloon found itself in a state of diplomatic limbo as a result an ongoing feud between the Chinese And English governments. Previously, I argued that Jane Jacobs and Walt Disney both advocate a bottom-up oriented urban planning that focused on the needs of city’s inhabitants. While this point of view […]
Walt Disney and Jane Jacobs on urban design

October 30, 2012 | 278 Comments

Most urban designers would agree that Jane Jacobs has had a profound impact in the way we think about planning. While it might not be apparent, her views have much common with the way Walt Disney envisioned the ideal community. So what connects an urban activist to one of the founders of multi-billion dollar corperation? As a journalist living in Greenwich Village, New York Jane Jacobs made the case for a more […]