In the regulation of algorithms, particularly artificial intelligence and its subfield of machine learning, a right to explanation (or right to an explanation) is a right to be given an explanation for an output of the algorithm. Such rights primarily refer to individual rights to be given an explanation for decisions that significantly affect an individual…
Some such legal rights already exist, while the scope of a general “right to explanation” is a matter of ongoing debate.
In France the 2016 Loi pour une République numérique (Digital Republic Act or loi numérique) amends the country’s administrative code to introduce a new provision for the explanation of decisions made by public sector bodies about individuals. It notes that where there is “a decision taken on the basis of an algorithmic treatment”, the rules that define that treatment and its “principal characteristics” must be communicated to the citizen upon request, where there is not an exclusion (e.g. for national security or defence). These should include the following:
- the degree and the mode of contribution of the algorithmic processing to the decision- making;
- the data processed and its source;
- the treatment parameters, and where appropriate, their weighting, applied to the situation of the person concerned;
- the operations carried out by the treatment.