Skip to content

Decision-making in the Age of the Algorithm

A guide for public sector organisations on how to introduce Artificial Intelligence tools so that they are embraced and used wisely by practitioners.

Frontline practitioners in the public sector – from social workers to police to custody officers – make important decisions every day about people’s lives. Operating in the context of a sector grappling with how to manage rising demand, coupled with diminishing resources, frontline practitioners are being asked to make very important decisions quickly and with limited information. To do this, public sector organisations are turning to new technologies to support decision-making, in particular, predictive analytics tools, which use machine learning algorithms to discover patterns in data and make predictions.

While many guides exist around ethical AI design, there is little guidance on how to support a productive human-machine interaction in relation to AI. This report aims to fill this gap by focusing on the issue of human-machine interaction. How people are working with tools is significant because, simply put, for predictive analytics tools to be effective, frontline practitioners need to use them well. It encourages public sector organisations to think about how people feel about predictive analytics tools – what they’re fearful of, what they’re excited about, what they don’t understand.

Based on insights drawn from an extensive literature review, interviews with frontline practitioners, and discussions with experts across a range of fields, the guide also identifies three key principles that play a significant role in supporting a constructive human-machine relationship: context, understanding, and agency.

Authors

Thea Snow

Thea Snow

Thea Snow

Senior Programme Manager, Government Innovation

Thea was a Senior Programme Manager in the Government Innovation team.

View profile