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Monday, April 8, 2019 @ 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm

The Center for the Study of Law and Society 
is pleased to announce the next speaker in the Spring 2019 CSLS Speaker Series




Visiting Scientist, AI Policy and Practice Initiative, College of Computing and Information Science, Cornell University; Managing Director (on leave), Upturn


Speaking on his research

“Kidney Allocation as Algorithmic Governance”


This lecture explores a real-world example of collaborative algorithmic governance: The allocation of deceased-donor kidneys for transplant in the United States. Although popular sources often speak of a “waiting list,” there is not a first-come, first-served queue for these organs. Instead, whenever a kidney becomes available, an algorithm managed by a nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia conducts a “match run,” to suggest a recipient for that organ. The algorithm reflects a complex blend of medical, logistical and moral factors. 

On December 4, 2014, a substantially redesigned version of the algorithm was introduced, in an effort to make the system both more efficient and more equitable. This new algorithm reflects a decade-long, consultative and transparent process that may be a model for other instances of high stakes algorithmic governance.

But the voluminous official record of this algorithm’s development, together with the published final formula and its accompanying explanatory materials, remain remarkably inscrutable when considered in isolation from other sources, for three reasons: First, the effective exercise of power over the algorithm (and the alternatives to using it) are offstage when the algorithm itself is centered. Second, even when an algorithm is transparent, the reasons behind decisions to include or exclude certain factors, and the effects of those decisions, may remain opaque. Third, the numbers that are used as inputs to the algorithm or as indicia of its performance are altered by the very fact that they are so used. These observations may be salient for other high stakes algorithms in the public sector and beyond.



Please join us on Monday, April 8 from 12:45-2:00p in the Philip Selznick Seminar Room, 2240 Piedmont Ave. 


Coffee and water are provided. We invite you to bring your own “bag lunch.”
We are looking forward to seeing you soon!


Jonathan Simon, Faculty Director

Rosann Greenspan, Executive Director



Monday, April 8, 2019
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Center for the Study of Law and Society


Philip Selznick Seminar Room
2240 Piedmont Ave
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150 United States
+ Google Map

Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.

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