The Trial of Superdebthunterbot, 2016
Helen Knowles


This work explores the issues of ethics and accountability associated with algorithmic decision-making. A fictional debt collecting company (Debt BB) codes an algorithm known as the ‘Superdebthunterbot’ to ensure fewer loan defaulters. Five individuals die as a result of the algorithm’s actions. Knowles’ 45-minute film shows a fictitious case in which the intelligent algorithm is prosecuted. The trial raises the question of who is accountable for machine-learning agents and whether the algorithm itself can be found guilty of manslaughter. The film was shot at Southwark Crown Court in London, where the courtroom sketches were also made.