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First-ever ACLU congressional testimony on artificial intelligence highlights secret algorithms used for a state’s government decision-making


WASHINGTON – Ritchie Eppink, an attorney Of Counsel with the ACLU of Idaho, testified before the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs about the harms of automated systems and artificial intelligence (AI) in government decision-making. Eppink was invited by the committee because of his involvement in K.W. v. Armstrong, the ACLU Idaho lawsuit challenging cuts to Medicaid support for adults with developmental disabilities based on secret algorithms and formulas used by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. In 2016, Idaho’s federal district court ruled that the Department’s system was unconstitutional. This will be the first time the ACLU, a national civil rights organization, has testified to Congress regarding artificial intelligence.

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The ACLU testimony highlighted problems with the use of AI and automated systems in government decision-making uncovered in KW v. Armstrong, including a lack of transparency concealing government use of automated systems and flaws within those systems. The testimony also emphasized the need for constitutional and regulatory safeguards via regulation specific to AI and automated systems, and for those impacted by AI decisions to be “integrally involved with the development, implementation, and assessment of those systems.”

“Fairness, due process, and transparency—not government secrecy—are the Idaho values my clients and their families expect,” Eppink said. “We’ve had to fight for them against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for over a decade now. I’m encouraged the Senate is taking seriously the dangers of artificial intelligence and automated systems like these, and I hope the lessons this lawsuit teaches help Congress protect these critical constitutional rights.”

– Source: ALCU Idaho

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