Our Humanity Exposed : Predictive Modelling in a Legal Context

Sammanfattning: This thesis examines predictive modelling from the legal perspective. Predictive modelling is a technology based on applied statistics, mathematics, machine learning and artificial intelligence that uses algorithms to analyse big data collections, and identify patterns that are invisible to human beings. The accumulated knowledge is incorporated into computer models, which are then used to identify and predict human activity in new circumstances, allowing for the manipulation of human behaviour.Predictive models use big data to represent people. Big data is a term used to describe the large amounts of data produced in the digital environment. It is growing rapidly due mainly to the fact that individuals are spending an increasing portion of their lives within the on-line environment, spurred by the internet and social media. As individuals make use of the on-line environment, they part with information about themselves. This information may concern their actions but may also reveal their personality traits.Predictive modelling is a powerful tool, which private companies are increasingly using to identify business risks and opportunities. They are incorporated into on-line commercial decision-making systems, determining, among other things, the music people listen to, the news feeds they receive, the content people see and whether they will be granted credit. This results in a number of potential harms to the individual, especially in relation to personal autonomy.This thesis examines the harms resulting from predictive modelling, some of which are recognized by traditional law. Using the European legal context as a point of departure, this study ascertains to what extent legal regimes address the use of predictive models and the threats to personal autonomy. In particular, it analyses Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) adopted by the European Union (EU). Considering the shortcomings of traditional legal instruments, a strategy entitled ‘empowerment’ is suggested. It comprises components of a legal and technical nature, aimed at levelling the playing field between companies and individuals in the commercial setting. Is there a way to strengthen humanity as predictive modelling continues to develop?

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