Algorithmic regulation – Wikipedia

Algorithmic regulation (also known as Algorithmic governance, Regulation by algorithms, Government by algorithm or Algorithmic legal order[1]) is an alternative form of government or also social ordering, where the advantages and usages of computer algorithms, especially of artificial intelligence, are applied to regulations, law enforcement and generally any aspect of everyday life like transportation system e.g..[2][3][4][5]


In 1962, head of the Department of technical physics in Kiev, Alexander Kharkevich, published an article in the journal “Communist” about a computer network for processing of information and control of economy.[6][7] In fact, he proposed to make a network like the modern Internet for the needs of algorithmic regulation.

In 1971–1973, Chilenian government carried out the Project Cybersyn during the presidency of Salvador Allende. This project was aimed at constructing a distributed decision support system to improve the management of the national economy.[8]

Also in the 1960ies and 1970ies, Herbert A. Simon championed expert systems as tools for rationalization and evaluation of administrative behavior.[9]

Since 2000ies, algorithms are designed and used to automatically analyze surveillance videos.[10]

Overview and Examples[edit]

Written laws are not replaced but stressed to test its efficiency. Algorithmic regulation is supposed to be a system of governance where more exact data collected from citizens via their smart devices and computers are used for more efficiency in organizing human life as a collective.[11][12] The novels Daemon and Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez describe a fictional scenario of global algorithmic regulation.[13] In 2013, algorithmic regulation was coined by Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media Inc.

Sometimes the “rules” aren’t really even rules. Gordon Bruce, the former CIO of the city of Honolulu, explained to me that when he entered government from the private sector and tried to make changes, he was told, “That’s against the law.” His reply was “OK. Show me the law.” “Well, it isn’t really a law. It’s a regulation.” “OK. Show me the regulation.” “Well, it isn’t really a regulation. It’s a policy that was put in place by Mr. Somebody twenty years ago.” “Great. We can change that!””

Laws should specify goals, rights, outcomes, authorities, and limits. If specified broadly, those laws can stand the test of time.
Regulations, which specify how to execute those laws in much more detail, should be regarded in much the same way that programmers regard their code and algorithms, that is, as a constantly updated toolset to achieve the outcomes specified in the laws.

It’s time for government to enter the age of big data. Algorithmic regulation is an idea whose time has come.[14]

Management of infection[edit]

In February 2020, China launched a mobile app to deal with Coronavirus outbreak.[15] Users are asked to enter their name and ID number. The app is able to detect ‘close contact’ using surveillance data and therefore a potential risk of infection. Every user can also check the status of three other users. If a potential risk is detected, the app not only recommends self-quarantine, it also alerts local health officials.[16]

Cellphone data is used to locate infected patients in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and other countries.[17] In March 2020, the Israeli government enabled security agencies to track mobile phone data of people supposed to have coronavirus. The measure was taken to enforce quarantine and protect those who may come into contact with infected citizens.[18] Also in March 2020, Deutsche Telekom shared private cellphone data with the federal government agency, Robert Koch Institute, in order to research and prevent the spread of the virus.[19] Russia deployed facial recognition technology to detect quarantine breakers.[20] Italian regional health commissioner Giulio Gallera said that “40% of people are continuing to move around anyway”, as he has been informed by mobile phone operators.[21]


There is a serious concern that gaming by the regulated parties might occur.[5] If algorithmic governance brings more transparency into the decision making, regulated parties might try to manipulate their outcome in own favor and even use adversarial machine learning.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ (Retrieved on March 20th 2020). Original Spanish peer-reviewed article: Rubén Rodríguez Abril (16 March 2020). “Una aproximación al ordenamiento algorítmico y a su proyección civil, comercial y financiera”.
  2. ^ Yeung, Karen (December 2018). “Algorithmic regulation: A critical interrogation”. Regulation & Governance. 12 (4): 505–523. doi:10.1111/rego.12158.
  3. ^ Medina, Eden (2015). “Rethinking algorithmic regulation” (PDF). Kybernetes. 44.6/7: 1005–1019.
  4. ^ Katzenbach, Christian; Ulbricht, Lena (29 November 2019). “Algorithmic governance”. Internet Policy Review. 8 (4). ISSN 2197-6775. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b School, Stanford Law. “Government by Algorithm: A Review and an Agenda”. Stanford Law School. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  6. ^ “Machine of communism. Why the USSR did not create the Internet”. (in Russian). Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  7. ^ Kharkevich, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (1973). Theory of information. The identification of the images. Selected works in three volumes. Volume 3. Information and technology: Moscow: Publishing House “Nauka”, 1973. – Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Institute of information transmission problems. pp. 495–508.
  8. ^ “IU professor analyzes Chile’s ‘Project Cybersyn. UI News Room. Archived from the original on 10 September 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  9. ^ Freeman Engstrom, David; Ho, Daniel E.; Sharkey, Catherine M.; Cuéllar, Mariano-Florentino (2020). “Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies” (PDF).
  10. ^ Sodemann, Angela A.; Ross, Matthew P.; Borghetti, Brett J. (November 2012). “A Review of Anomaly Detection in Automated Surveillance”. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C (Applications and Reviews). 42 (6): 1257–1272. doi:10.1109/TSMCC.2012.2215319.
  11. ^ A brief exchange with Tim O’Reilly about “algorithmic regulation”, Tim McCormick
  12. ^ The rise of data and the death of politics, Evgeny Morozov. The Observer, Sunday 20 July 2014
  13. ^ Rieger, Frank (2011). “Gespräch mit Daniel Suarez: Wir werden mit System erobert”. Frankfurter Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  14. ^ Open Data and Algorithmic Regulation, Tim O’Reilly – Beyond Transparency
  15. ^ “China launches coronavirus ‘close contact’ app”. BBC News. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  16. ^ Chen, Angela. “China’s coronavirus app could have unintended consequences”. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  17. ^ Manancourt, Vincent (10 March 2020). “Coronavirus tests Europe’s resolve on privacy”. POLITICO. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  18. ^ Tidy, Joe (17 March 2020). “Coronavirus: Israel enables emergency spy powers”. BBC News. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  19. ^ Paksoy, Yunus. “German telecom giant shares private data with government amid privacy fears”. German telecom giant shares private data with government amid privacy fears. trtworld. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  20. ^ “Moscow deploys facial recognition technology for coronavirus quarantine”. Reuters. 21 February 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  21. ^ “Italians scolded for flouting lockdown as death toll nears 3,000”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 20 March 2020.

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