Two Waves of Algorithmic Accountability for Mental Health Apps

Posted on Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The AI + Society Initiative, in collaboration with the Centre for Law, Technology and Society and the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, and the Bruyère Research Institute, presents:


Two Waves of Algorithmic Accountability for Mental Health Apps


Frank Pasquale

in conversation with Emmanuelle Bernheim

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
at 11:30 ET


Watch The Video Now


Join us for a conversation on algorithmic accountability for mental health apps with leading expert Frank Pasquale, in conversation with Emmanuelle Bernheim.

An algorithmic accountability movement in medicine is critiquing—and starting to address—the biases and other problems that afflict computationally inflected diagnosis and care. While the first wave of algorithmic accountability focuses on improving existing systems, a second wave of research has asked whether they should be used at all—and, if so, who is to govern them. These questions will become increasingly important as “chatbot therapists,” clinical decision support software, symptom checkers, and self-reporting tools become more common in mental health care.   

First-wave algorithmic accountability concerns will focus on whether mental health apps are safe and effective, and whether they adequately represent and respond to diverse communities. Second-wave critics question whether apps are prematurely disrupting markets for (and the profession of) mental health care in order to accelerate the substitution of cheap software for more expensive, expert, and empathetic professionals. These labor questions are already a staple of platform regulation. One structural safeguard is to assure that clinically targeted apps are developed as intelligence augmentation for responsible professionals rather than as artificial intelligence replacing them. To achieve that end, policymakers should take a broader, law and political economy perspective on regulation of the field, including licensure, liability, privacy, and reimbursement rules.


About the Speaker

Frank Pasquale is an expert on the law of AI, algorithms, and machine learning. He is a Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, a Visiting Scholar at the AI Now Institute, an Affiliate Fellow at Yale University's Information Society Project, and a member of the American Law Institute. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Computational Law (CRCL), based in the Netherlands, and a member of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence on Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S). His book The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press 2015) has been recognized as a landmark study on the law and political economy of information. His New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI (Harvard University Press 2020) rethinks the political economy of automation, to promote human capacities as the irreplaceable center of an inclusive economy.


About the discussant

Emmanuelle Bernheim is a Full Professor in the Civil Law Section of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Mental Health and Access to Justice. Her research focuses on the production and reproduction of inequalities through law and on access to rights and justice for marginalized people in the areas of mental health, child welfare and self-representation before the courts.


This event will be in English only.
This event will be recorded.

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