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The Suspicion Machine w/ Gabriel Geiger, Miriyam Aouragh & Sofia Ranchordas

Across the world, experimental predictive algorithms are being deployed that promise to prevent welfare fraud. Now for the first time, an international team of journalists gained unprecedented access to one of these “suspicion machines” in the city of Rotterdam.

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13 april 2023 van 20:00 – 00:00


Independent School
Delftsestraat 33

An investigation by Lighthouse Reports, WIRED and Vers Beton demonstrates how governments all over Europe – and municipalities like Rotterdam – are deploying AI risk scoring systems in welfare fraud detection, revealing discrimination, wide-scale surveillance, and a trail of lives ruined. 

Every year, Rotterdam carries out investigations on some of its 30,000 welfare recipients. Since 2017, the city has used a machine learning model to flag suspected welfare cheats. Lighthouse Reports obtained Rotterdam’s welfare fraud algorithm and the data used to train it, giving unparalleled insight into how such a system works. Rotterdam was chosen as the centrepiece of this investigation not because what it is doing is especially novel, but because it was the only one willing to share the code behind its algorithm used to predict benefits fraud.

On Thursday April 13 investigative journalist Gabriel Geiger (Lighthouse Reports) will share what they uncovered and discuss why it matters with digital anthropologist Miriyam Aouragh (Westminster University London) and Professor of Administrative Law Sofia Ranchordas (Tilburg University). Examining Rotterdam’s welfare fraud algorithm we look at the serious flaws and biases it contains, the human impact caused by its decisions, and what it reveals about the future of AI. The evening is moderated by science journalist Geert Maarse.

This programme was conceived in collaboration with De Dépendance guest curator Nuria Ribas Costa and Lighthouse Reports.

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