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Insights Live: How Economics Can Help Inform the Debate on “Algorithmic Bias”


When you search for “Stephanie Williams,” Google asks if you meant “Stephen Williams.” A case of gender bias—or is there something more at work here? MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management Science Catherine Tucker takes viewers through her recent research looking at the ways algorithms appear to reinforce existing inequalities. Tucker, who is also a professor of marketing, cofounder of the Cryptoeconomics lab at MIT, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, is known for her research into the consequences of digital data for privacy, algorithmic bias, digital health, and online advertising.

Using online advertising to test gender, racial and socio-economic biases, she employs the tools of economics to uncover some surprising underlying reasons for algorithmic bias, including cost-minimizing, machine learning, and relying on economic history to categorize consumers. Tucker concludes by considering whether the much-touted notion of “algorithmic transparency” would solve any of these problems.

Guest Speaker
Catherine Tucker, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, Professor, Marketing, Chair MIT Sloan PhD Program

Andrei Hagiu, Dean’s Research Scholar, Associate Professor, Information Systems, Associate Director for the Platforms Initiative, Digital Sector, Questrom School of Business

Hosted by Peter Howard, Executive Director,
Questrom Digital Business Institute

About the Digital Leadership Forum:
The Digital Business Institute at Boston University Questrom School of Business and Questrom’s Information Systems Department co-host the Boston Digital Leadership Forum. The goal of the forum is to feature one well-known digital business leader or thinker every month to discuss our digital future.