As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate, automation, algorithms, or so-called Artificial Intelligence have become a topic of increasing concern for many people. While such systems have the potential to increase efficiency and productivity, they can also lead to discrimination, affect public decision-making, and amplify existing injustices.
Yet, today, the use of algorithms in Switzerland – where they are used, by whom, and to what purpose – largely remains a black box.
The Atlas of Automation aims to shed light into the black box. It offers a directory of examples of algorithmic systems that are used in Switzerland, whether by government agencies or the private sector. The focus lies on algorithmic systems that are used in decision-making, thus to predict, recommend, affect or take decisions about human beings, or that generate content used by or on human beings. It does not aim to be comprehensive but rather illustrates a broad range of examples through which algorithms potentially affect our lives, our rights, our society or our democracy.
Our goal is to provide an accessible resource that helps people understand the extent of automation in Switzerland. Our website is not just for journalists, policymakers, or researchers, but for anyone who is interested in understanding how automation is shaping our everyday life, and what this means for us.
We invite you to explore our website and learn more about the use of algorithms in Switzerland. If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact us. And, importantly, if you know of any further systems that are used in Switzerland and that potentially affect people’s lives, rights, or society as a whole, then let us know!
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How the database works
Information on algorithms in use in Switzerland is not easily available or accessible. To find out about where systems are used, resource-intense research is required. In the database, we collect entries of algorithmic systems that we have detected through our research, inquiries to public authorities, and parliamentary questions. This includes systems used by government agencies and by companies.
The first input field allows a full text search over all database entries. The database can also be searched by Category, Employing Entities and Affected Groups or be organized geographically by clicking on one or several Swiss cantons. Search results can then be sorted by the selected criteria, studied in more detail by clicking on a single entry, or be exported as an Excel Sheet. Each entry contains a description of how this specific algorithmic system is used and how it may be relevant to the public. Entries also include links to additional sources and information.
The entries about systems that are used nation-wide throughout Switzerland are written in English, since we do not want to favor one of the national languages. Entries that cover systems that are used in specific cantons or regions are written in the language spoken there.