Gatekeeping Algorithms with Human Ethical Bias: The ethics of algorithms in archives, libraries and society

by   Martijn van Otterlo, et al.

In the age of algorithms, I focus on the question of how to ensure algorithms that will take over many of our familiar archival and library tasks, will behave according to human ethical norms that have evolved over many years. I start by characterizing physical archives in the context of related institutions such as libraries and museums. In this setting I analyze how ethical principles, in particular about access to information, have been formalized and communicated in the form of ethical codes, or: codes of conducts. After that I describe two main developments: digitalization, in which physical aspects of the world are turned into digital data, and algorithmization, in which intelligent computer programs turn this data into predictions and decisions. Both affect interactions that were once physical but now digital. In this new setting I survey and analyze the ethical aspects of algorithms and how they shape a vision on the future of archivists and librarians, in the form of algorithmic documentalists, or: codementalists. Finally I outline a general research strategy, called IntERMEeDIUM, to obtain algorithms that obey are human ethical values encoded in code of ethics.


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