Against the Power of Algorithms. Closing, Literate Programming, and Source Code Critique
Law Text Culture
Pages / Article-Number
Some algorithms know more than we think they would know at certain moments: the notorious examples range from superior, hidden knowledge to explicit oppression. A famous example is one of a large American retail chain that knew of a teenage customer’s pregnancy long before her own father because of the goods in her online shopping cart (Mayer-Schönberger et al 2013: 57-58). In the context of socalled predictive policing, authorities pretend to know the next crime scene even before the crime is committed (Fry 2018: 144 ff.). And finally, criticism of Google’s Page Rank algorithm continues: as Safiya Noble observes in her book Algorithms of Oppression, its design is based on an intricate series of racist assumptions. In the juridical realm, algorithms that technically consist merely of decisions between 0 and 1 on a basal level appear to play an increasing role in legal decision making. Sometimes algorithms themselves become ‘defendants’, as the following example from rural, sparsely populated Central Finland will show.