About ADM Nordic

ADM Nordic is a research network established with the objective of studying current developments in the use of automated decision-making systems in the Nordic public sector. The network aims to engage and prepare the ground for interdisciplinary research and facilitating coordinated, transnational fieldwork in Sweden, Finland and Denmark,to understand the impact of automated decision-making on employees and citizens, whose data and work practices feed the automated decision-making systems.

The network is coordinated by University of Helsinki, Lund University and University of Copenhagen.

The objectives of the research network are to

  • Create an interdisciplinary research agenda for studying current developments in the use of automated decision-making systems, focusing on the Nordic public sector.
  • Develop empirical baselines for beginning to assess the impact of automation on employees and citizens whose work practices and data feed automated decision-making systems.
  • Facilitate coordinated fieldwork on ADM projects in Sweden, Finland and Denmark, with outlooks to comparable cases in Europe.
  • Further knowledge exchange between computer science and humanistic and social sciences to thereby strengthen future interdisciplinary research on automation across institutional and national boundaries in the Nordic countries.

Network idea

The past five years of scholarship has seen a steady stream of critical studies of algorithms, datafication and AI within the human and social sciences in particular. These studies have commonly called for accountability of technical systems, data ethics, transparency and regulatory oversight to ensure human justice in the automated decision-making (ADM) taking place through these systems (Pasquale 2015, Taylor 2017, Eubanks 2018). At the same time, reality is rife with examples of violations of basic human rights by way of security breaches, inherent biases in automated systems, etc. Critical examples have been found across the globe, e.g. in the public sector’s use data excess for fraud detection, distribution of welfare benefits and profiling of (vulnerable) citizens (Spielkamp 2019). Together, these have led researchers, public figures and people at large to lament the possible negative impact of automation on almost any area of human life, from healthcare and welfare, to work and the functioning of public spheres, and well into intimate life (Zuboff 2019).

However, empirical studies of the human impacts of ADM are still scarce, and we have yet to establish systematic research and empirical evidence for the role and consequences of ADM in contemporary society. This network brings together scholars from computer science, law, anthropology, and media and communication research to convene an interdisciplinary research agenda, crosspollinated by different strands of theory and research practice, and explore and devise pathways for the empirical study of automated decision-making in the Nordic context. We concentrate on public sector ADM projects in the welfare states of Scandinavia with the aim of exploring what might be their particular strengths and challenges. 

The network is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark with 1,2 mio Danish kroner and runs in 2020-2021.