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The Fairness Impact Assessment: Conceptualizing Problems of Fairness in Technological Design

The Fairness Impact Assessment: Conceptualizing Problems of Fairness in Technological Design
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Author(s): Cameron Shelley (University of Waterloo, Canada)
Copyright: 2022
Volume: 13
Issue: 1
Pages: 16
Source title: International Journal of Technoethics (IJT)
Editor(s)-in-Chief: Steven Umbrello (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, University of Turin, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/IJT.291554

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Abstract

As modern life becomes ever more mediated by technology, technology assessment becomes ever more important. Tools that help to anticipate and evaluate social impacts of technological designs are crucial to understanding this relationship. This paper presents an assessment tool called the Fairness Impact Assessment (FIA). For present purposes, fairness refers to conflicts of interest between social groups that result from the configuration of technological designs. In these situations, designs operate in a way such that advantages they provide to one social group impose disadvantages on another. The FIA helps to make clear the nature of these conflicts and possibilities for their resolution. As a broad, qualitative framework, the FIA can be applied more generally than specifically quantitative frameworks currently being explored in the field of machine learning. Though not a formula for solving difficult social issues, the FIA provides a systematic means for the investigation of fairness problems in technology design that are otherwise not always well understood or addressed.

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