Algorithms in the Swiss Political Discourse

This project is conducted as part of a Capstone Course of the Institute of Political Science at the University of Zurich. The aim of this project is to evaluate the Swiss discourse on the use of algorithms: Which actors shape the public debate and from which perspectives are algorithms politically problematized?
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Both public and private organizations are increasingly employing automated decision-making systems (algorithms) to support their decision-making processes with insights from data. Algorithmic decision-making relies on automated processes that first analyze and interpret data based on a human-made interpretive model, and then act automatically by deriving the action from this interpretation. An example of this is automated facial recognition, as embedded in video surveillance at various locations such as schools, stadiums, and airports.

While the use of algorithms promises better and more efficient decision-making, this comes at the price of more difficult public scrutiny of the underlying processes. Additionally, algorithmic decision-making processes can exacerbate already existing social inequalities. Therefore, the regulation of algorithms will be a policy concern for the foreseeable future.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the Swiss discourse on the use of algorithms: Which actors shape the public debate and from which perspectives are algorithms politically problematized? The results will help us to critically monitor the increasing use of algorithms in our everyday life and to make the public aware of the impact of algorithmic decision-making.

This project is conducted as part of a Capstone Course of the Institute of Political Science at the University of Zurich under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Gilardi and Dr. Jonathan Klüser.