Document Type



Science and Technology Law


The era of automated decision making fast approaches, and anxiety is mounting about when and why we should keep "humans in the loop" (HITL). Thus far, commentary has focused primarily on two questions: whether keeping humans involved will improve the results of decision making (rendering those results safer or more accurate), and whether human involvement serves non-accuracy-related values like legitimacy and dignity.

Here, we take up a related, but distinct question which has eluded the scholarship thus far: does it matter if humans appear to be in the loop of decision making, independent from whether they actually are? In other words, what is at stake in the disjunction between whether humans in fact have ultimate authority over decision making versus whether humans merely seem, from the outside, to have such authority?