The Right to Contestation: Towards Repairing Our Interactions with Algorithmic Decision Systems
Robert Patrick Collins, Johan Redström, Marco Rozendaal


This paper looks at how contestation in the context of algorithmic decision systems is essentially the progeny of repair for our more decentralized and abstracted digital world. The act of repair has often been a way for users to contest with bad design, substandard products, and disappointing outcomes—not to mention often being a necessary aspect of ensuring effective use over time. As algorithmic systems continue to make more decisions about our lives and futures, we need to look for new ways to contest their outcomes and repair potentially broken systems. Through looking at examples of contemporary repair and contestation and tracing the history of electronics repair from discrete components into the decentralized systems of today, we look at how the shared values of repair and contestation help surface ways to approach contestation using tactics of the Right to Repair movement and the instincts of the Fixer. Finally, we speculate on roles, communities, and a move towards an agonistic interaction space where response-ability rests more equally across user, designer, and system.

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