Algorithmically Encoded Identities

Originally presented as a FAT* 2020 CRAFT Session

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Our aim with this workshop is to provide a venue within which the FAT* community and others can thoughtfully engage with identity and the categories which are imposed on people as part of making sense of their identities. Most people have nuanced and deeply personal understandings of what identity categories mean to them; however, sociotechnical systems must, through a set of classification decisions, reduce the nuance and complexity of those identities into discrete categories. The impact of misclassifications can range from the uncomfortable (e.g. displaying ads for items that aren’t desirable) to devastating (e.g. being denied medical care; being evaluated as having a high risk of criminal recidivism). Even the act of being classified can force an individual into categories which feel foreign and othering. Through this workshop, we hope to connect participants’ personal understandings of identity to how identity is ‘seen’ and categorized by sociotechnical systems.

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