Automated Decision-Making With Machine Learning

August 29, 2023

Explore the realm of automated decision-making through machine learning. Discover how advanced algorithms enable data-driven choices, streamline processes, and enhance outcomes. Dive into the possibilities of harnessing AI for efficient and effective decision-making in various fields.

The use of automated decision-making systems is common in many industries. These tools are typically used to ensure that decisions are made consistently, efficiently and accurately.

Machine learning algorithms are a common means of automating these processes. However, these methods have their drawbacks as well. They can be prone to errors and biases, and they also have the potential to produce results that have a disproportionately adverse impact on protected classes.

Benefits

Machine learning has a broad potential to improve accuracy and fairness in automated decision-making systems. It can be used to train algorithms to make judgments about employment eligibility, credit worthiness, housing, public accommodation, criminal justice, health care, and jury selection. It can also be used to develop new products or services, predict trends in human behavior, and perform many other tasks previously performed by humans.

Automated decision-making is a promising technology because it reduces risk and errors by making decisions faster and with more precision. It increases productivity and allows for a higher level of consistency across all decisions.

However, automated decision-making is not without its risks. Some of these risks are related to the nature and scope of the data that is being used. In addition, the resulting decisions may be difficult for people to understand.

In some cases, people who are impacted by the decisions made by automated systems do not know why they were denied a benefit or have their eligibility denied, leaving them feeling frustrated and disenfranchised. This problem is especially pronounced in areas like employment, credit, and housing.

Despite its promise, the use of machine learning to automate decision-making could be unfairly discriminatory, even when it uses training data from the past and only reflects the biases that have been observed. This is because a machine learning system is only able to learn from the patterns in a dataset, which can be shaped by whatever prejudices are present in that data.

Another danger is that the resulting algorithms could be biased in their own right. This is a concern that has long been raised by critics of artificial intelligence, who argue that AI systems are “black boxes” that have the ability to reproduce biases that were previously only observed in humans.

This is particularly true of predictive analytics, which rely on factors that can be ambiguous and uncertain. It can be difficult to determine whether an individual is risk-prone, for example, or if they will be able to afford insurance.

In some situations, it may be necessary for a human to review the results of the machine’s decision, and to make changes or adjustments to rules or parameters that could improve its effectiveness. This is often called human on the loop (HOTL). It can be a good way to ensure that machines make decisions that are as consistent as possible, but it can also lead to ambiguous outcomes.

Methods

Automated decision-making with machine learning helps businesses make more accurate, efficient decisions that are based on data and rules rather than a human’s whim. It can also reduce costs and improve customer experience, enabling organizations to grow their business.

The methods used to automate decision-making with machine learning vary, but all work by using algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data and make predictions and decisions. They can be rule-based, data-driven, or both.

Rule-based and data-driven decisions can be applied to a wide range of situations, from legal audits and risk analyses to insurance claims processing. In this type of automation, rules and criteria are defined by a human or machine to guide the system’s decision-making process.

Alternatively, companies can use AI to automatically detect fraud or identify equipment failures. These techniques are more scalable than traditional manual analysis, and they can be used in conjunction with other automated systems to ensure compliance and efficiency.

For example, retailers can use a machine learning model to identify buying patterns and recommend products based on customer preferences. However, these recommendations must be backed by an integrated approach that enables a retailer to deliver a personalized and engaging experience.

A common concern with automated decision-making is the potential for bias, which can lead to misplaced trust and harmful outcomes. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to prevent and avoid bias when using machine learning models to make decisions. First, the automated system must be designed and built with a clear set of values in mind. Second, the automated decision-making system must be made as transparent as possible, allowing users to understand how it was made and what impacts it has.

Challenges

Automated decision-making with machine learning is a key technology for a variety of industries, from retail to transportation and operations. These systems can help businesses make more informed business decisions and save time and money by predicting customer behaviors and market trends.

For example, companies use ML models to create customer segments based on demographic information and purchase history. This allows them to create targeted marketing campaigns and improve their service levels. Similarly, financial services firms utilize ML algorithms to detect and prevent fraud schemes earlier.

As a result, these systems are transforming the way many organizations operate and deliver critical services. The challenge, however, is that these systems can have unintended negative impacts.

These harms can range from loss of opportunity to economic detriment and social deprivation. They can also create legal issues and lead to litigation.

For these reasons, automated decision-making systems must be designed and deployed carefully to avoid these harms. This requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal requirements and a robust approach to assessing and mitigating biases in data and machine learning models.

The federal public service has a key role to play in ensuring the responsible implementation of these technologies. Its data scientists, for example, can play a critical role in identifying and mitigating these risks through model selection and interpretation to meet the Directive’s requirements on transparency, fairness and explainability.

A major challenge for automating decision-making with machine learning is that it may be difficult to interpret the results of a model, especially in complex areas such as banking and insurance. This is particularly true when a company must comply with strict regulatory guidelines.

Another challenge is that some systems might produce discriminatory results if they inadvertently underrepresent members of protected classes or are infected with past patterns of discrimination. This could exacerbate existing discriminatory practices and expose the system developers and users to legal liability for failure to comply with anti-discrimination laws.

Although a number of recent advances in artificial intelligence techniques have started to aid human decision-making, they are not yet effective enough to fully complement human judgment. They are too often subject to potential biases. These biases can affect the quality of automated decision-making and impede its ability to improve upon human judgment in complicated social decision problems.

Conclusions

Machine learning is the process of using computers to make predictions about the future. These are usually based on patterns in large data sets, and are often used in a variety of industries such as drug discovery and personalized treatment.

Among the many benefits of machine learning is its ability to quickly and efficiently perform tasks that would take humans a long time. For example, it can analyze massive volumes of data to help Pfizer find new drugs or develop effective treatments for patients with a particular condition.

Another benefit is the way it can rapidly identify and remove false positives, ensuring that the most relevant and important information is presented. This is particularly helpful in the drug approval process, where it can be difficult to distinguish the true effects of a drug from those that aren’t.

Finally, machine learning can be a great way to improve the accuracy of computer systems that perform mundane operations like calculating taxes or recognizing a voice. For instance, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Duplex rely heavily on deep learning to recognize speech or text.

While automated decision-making can be a great tool for saving money and accelerating processes, it may also have unforeseen consequences. For example, it could end up producing disproportionately adverse outcomes for people in protected classes.

This is why, if you’re concerned about the use of automated decision-making systems to make decisions, you should consider whether there are alternatives that aren’t subject to these risks. You can find these alternative approaches through a variety of methods, including research, policy, and the media.

One method is to develop an artificial intelligence system that makes micro-decisions in an unsupervised manner, with the human on the loop reviewing the results and adjusting rules or parameters for future decisions. Another is to apply machine learning to existing decisions, attempting to replicate the subjective judgments of human decision makers.

A third, more novel type of automation is predictive optimization. It’s a lot more complicated than the first two, but it works by using a computer to uncover patterns in data that predict an outcome of interest — such as the likelihood that a crime will happen in a specific area. These patterns are then used to inform the decision-making process.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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