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Silvia Milano (Oxford): “What is a good recommendation? Recommender Systems and their ethical challenges.”

27 March 2019, 4:30 pm6:00 pm

Abstract: We interact with Recommender Systems on a regular basis when we use online services and apps. They shape individual experience of online environments and social interactions. They collect, curate, and act upon vast amounts of data. Given their significant impact, they deserve urgent ethical scrutiny. However, research into this area is still in its infancy. The debate is fragmented across different scientific communities, who tend to focus on specific aspects and applications of RS in a variety of context, and is hampered by proprietary issues, making it difficult for independent researchers to access information about RS operations.

Building on a systematic review of the existing literature, I identify six areas of concern posed by RS, and map them onto a proposed taxonomy of different kinds of ethical impacts. The analysis uncovers a gap in the literature: currently user-centred approaches to do not consider the interests of a variety of other stakeholders—as opposed to just the receivers of a recommendation—in assessing the ethical impacts of a recommender system. Going forward, we need to develop a better understanding of what, exactly, constitutes a good recommendation, and how to capture it using quantifiable metrics.


27 March 2019
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
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LAK 2.06
Lakatos Building
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