Dear All,

Professor Martin Peterson will be giving a public lecture on 26 February
entitled: "Algorithms and value judgements: should we treat like cases
alike?". (See abstract below.)

The lecture will take place at 4.30pm in the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms,
Room 1. Attendance is free, but please reserve a ticket through this

Martin Peterson is Professor of Philosophy & Sue and Harry E. Bovay
Professor of the History and Ethics of Professional Engineering at Texas
A&M University. His research covers ethics of technology, moral
philosophy and decision theory ( [2]).

We hope to see many of you there.

Best wishes,


Abstract: An algorithm is a set of instructions that describe how to
solve a problem. Some algorithms are value-laden in the sense that
agents who seek to solve one and the same problem, and share the same
factual beliefs, have compelling reasons to design their algorithms
differently because they accept different value judgements. In this talk
I give some examples of this phenomenon and ask who should get to
specify the value judgments in value-laden algorithms. Some common
answers are: (1) Users should specify the value judgments. (2)
Well-informed and morally conscientious software designers should
specify the value judgements. (3) Regulators should specify the value
judgements. (4) The market forces should specify the value judgements.
(5) The machine itself should do the job. The solution I propose can be
summarized as follows: In each algorithm, the value judgements should be
specified in whatever way they should be specified in the most morally
similar case in which a comparable problem is solved without using
algorithms. This is a reasonable application of the plausible idea that
we should treat like cases alike.


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