Big Data is not Magic; a cautionary tale of AI gone mad

2016 was the year of hype, and nothing was hyped more than “artificial intelligence” and its unholy marriage to mass data. Now, in what the Australian Privacy Foundation has officially described officially as a “cluster f***,” Centrelink’s Debt Recovery foray into big data and automated matching has been revealed as a complete disaster.

(Sorry for the un-family friendly language, but “clusterf*** is the term the foundation actually used.)

Centrelink delivers a range of Australian federal government payments and services for retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, parents, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians, and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and provides services at times of major change. The majority of Centrelink’s services are the disbursement of social security payments.

You couldn’t write this into a dystopian thriller about how the machines take over and send everyone rude tax demands. You couldn’t, because it would be boring, and stupid. But, that’s what has happened here.

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