Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Advances in reinforcement learning and implicit data collection on large-scale commercial platforms mark the beginning of a new era of personalization aimed at the adaptive control of human user environments. We present five emergent features of this new paradigm of personalization that endanger persons and societies at scale and analyze their potential to reduce personal autonomy, destabilize social and political systems, and facilitate mass surveillance and social control, among other concerns. We argue that current data protection laws, most notably the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, are limited in their ability to adequately address many of these issues. Nevertheless, we believe that IS researchers are well-situated to engage with and investigate this new era of personalization. We propose three distinct directions for ethically aware reinforcement learning-based personalization research uniquely suited to the strengths of IS researchers across the sociotechnical spectrum.





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