Digital Care & Cruelty

Digital Care and Cruelty: Social Provisioning and Deprivation in the Era of Big Data 

What good can big data, automation and artificial intelligence do for individuals in need of social assistance and what harms can it perpetuate?

The first in our Big Data at the Margins series explores the impacts of artificial intelligence, big data and digital technologies on those in need of social supports and resources in smaller towns and cities across Canada. Increasingly, cash-strapped city governments are outsourcing decisions about who can receive social benefits, such as housing, health, or other social services, to privately-owned software providers. While these outsourced, algorithmically determined decisions may expedite access, they are not transparent and can contain unacknowledged biases. As a result, people in need can find themselves on the wrong end of an opaque decision they are unable to challenge.

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