Biased AI can have serious life-altering consequences for individuals.
It was reported in 2016 that the COMPAS program — or Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions — used by U.S. judges in some states to help decide parole and other sentencing conditions, had racial biases.
“COMPAS uses machine learning and historical data to predict the probability that a violent criminal will re-offend. Unfortunately it incorrectly predicts black people are more likely to re-offend than they do,” according to a paper by Toby Walsh, an artificial intelligence professor at the University of New South Wales.
While biases in AI exist, it is important that certain decisions are not left to software, Walsh told CNBC.
That’s especially when such decisions can directly harm a person’s life or liberty, he added.
“If we work hard at finding mathematically precise definitions of ethics, we may be able to deal with bias in AI and so be able to hand over some of these decisions to fairer machines,” Walsh said. “But we should never let a machine decide who lives and who dies.”