Digital Technologies and Labour Market Policy: the AMS Algorithm


Today I had the pleasure to host Astrid Mager (ÖAW) and Florian Cech (TU Wien) as speakers at our lecture series. They presented their research on algorithmic decision making based on their case study of the Austrian Employment Agency AMS.



Algorithmic systems increasingly intrude into and change public sectors including public employment in the context of digital transformation. The Public Employment Service Austria, for example, is rolling out a semi-automated decision-making system, the so-called "AMS Algorithm", that has been controversially discussed in the public domain. In this session, we discussed the inherent politics of the AMS algorithm. Based on an in-depth analysis of relevant technical documentation and policy documents, we investigate crucial conceptual, technical, and social implications of the system. This examination shows how the design of the algorithm is influenced by technical affordances, but also by social values, norms, and goals. We will further discuss tensions, challenges, and possible biases that the system entails calling into question the objectivity and neutrality of data claims and of high hopes pinned on evidence-based decision-making.

with Florian Cech (Centre for Informatics & Society, Technical University Vienna)
& Astrid Mager (Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Katja Mayer (Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna)

For further reading see a.o.:

(Illustration: screenshot from Der Standard )