ProPublica has unveiled its second tool, this time focused on pricing algorithms, in its series designed “to explain and peer inside the black-box algorithms that increasingly dominate our lives.” Because websites are “created, literally, the moment you arrive,” companies can easily develop websites for different users, the report states. “Each element of the page — the pictures, the ads, the text, the comments — live on computers in different places and are sent to your device when you request them,” the report adds. For example, ProPublica discovered The Princeton Review was citing different SAT prep course prices depending on ZIP codes, and the new tool allows users to test their findings. “That’s the thing with algorithms — they can discriminate unintentionally,” the report continues. “And as we enter a world of mass customization, we need to be on the lookout for this kind of discrimination.” Editor's note: P.S.R. attendees heard from keynoter Cathy O'Neil on issues with black-box algorithms, in San Jose, California.
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