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Policy Paper

Algorithms and vulnerable citizens: The cost of Australia’s experiment with automation in the governance of its social welfare system

Author:

Jasper Brown

AU
About Jasper

MA Public Policy and Management
Class of 2020
The University of Melbourne

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Abstract

This paper will disentangle the unique properties of
algorithmic governance models from their historical origins to
identify the destabilising consequences of governing or regulating
by an algorithm.3

To isolate the ways in which algorithmic
governance changes the quality of bureaucracy, the analysis
will consider the administrative and policy contexts in which
algorithms exist. This includes the people who design, implement
and interact with algorithmic governance, meaning “the data and
users upon which they act and the institutions that provide these
services” (Gillespie, 2014). Empirical evidence suggests that the
deployment of algorithmic governance mechanisms can have
disastrous consequences for the legitimacy of public services and
can compromise existing control mechanisms that regulate the
relationship between the citizen and the state (Galloway, 2007,
p.89). Finally, this paper will identify a repertoire of strategies for
controlling these challenges when improvements to governance
performance are pursued through algorithmic means.

How to Cite: Brown, J., 2020. Algorithms and vulnerable citizens: The cost of Australia’s experiment with automation in the governance of its social welfare system. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 8(1).
Published on 20 Mar 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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