Document Type



Columbia Law Review




Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly used to make important decisions, from university admissions selections to loan determinations to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. These uses of AI raise a host of concerns about discrimination, accuracy, fairness, and accountability.

In the United States, recent proposals for regulating AI focus largely on ex ante and systemic governance. This Article argues instead—or really, in addition—for an individual right to contest AI decisions, modeled on due process but adapted for the digital age. The European Union, in fact, recognizes such a right, and a growing number of institutions around the world now call for its establishment. This Article argues that despite considerable differences between the United States and other countries, establishing the right to contest AI decisions here would be in keeping with a long tradition of due process theory.

This Article then fills a gap in the literature, establishing a theoretical scaffolding for discussing what a right to contest should look like in practice. This Article establishes four contestation archetypes that should serve as the bases of discussions of contestation both for the right to contest AI and in other policy contexts. The contestation archetypes vary along two axes: from contestation rules to standards and from emphasizing procedure to establishing substantive rights. This Article then discusses four processes that illustrate these archetypes in practice, including the first in-depth consideration of the GDPR’s right to contestation for a U.S. audience. Finally, this Article integrates findings from these investigations to develop normative and practical guidance for establishing a right to contest AI.