Could New York City's AI Transparency Bill Be a Model for the Country?

The New York City Council met early in December to pass a law on algorithmic decision-making transparency that could have real significance for cities and states in the rest of the nation. With the passage of an algorithmic accountability bill, the city gains a task force that will monitor the fairness and validity of algorithms used by municipal agencies. The public is in the dark about AI (artificial intelligence) and how it is deployed and used, said Bronx City Council representative James Vacca.  “I strongly believe the public has a right to know when decisions are made using algorithms,” said Vacca during the December City Council Technology Committee meeting. New York uses algorithms to determine if a lower bail will be assigned to an indigent defendant, where firehouses are established, student placement for public schools, accessing teacher performance, identifying Medicaid fraud and to determine where crime will happen next.  For example, he said, “I’ve always felt that the number of police officers in my two police precincts have always been disproportionately low, inadequate.” But according to Vacca, no one in the police department has been able to tell him they determine the numbers of police on the streets. “I don’t know what…

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