It’s a well-known fact that humans are prone to be racist, but as artificial intelligence evolves, it has become evident that technology is racist too.
Recent studies have found flaws in technological “advancements” that disadvantage people of a darker hue. For example, a ProPublica study found that software used to determine prison sentences for criminals (ostensibly to eradicate human bias) is biased against Black people. Similarly, an MIT Media Lab study revealed that certain facial recognition software can’t seem to identify women of color.
Technology like that and other artificial intelligence innovations rely on algorithms. These algorithms are part of our everyday lives– from the Google ads that appear on our screens to the items Sephora drops into targeted emails to the movies Netflix recommends.
But beyond just marketing tactics, artificial intelligence is increasingly being used for important and sensitive matters like criminal sentencing/profiling, security, and human resources.
A recent CNN article noted that just last week a conference entitled “AI Summit – Designing a Future for All” touched on those topics and more.
“Every social scientist knows that variables are interrelated. In the US for example, zip code [is] highly related to income, highly related to race. Profession [is] highly related to gender. Whether or not that’s the world you want to be in that is the world we are in,” said Rumman Chowdhury, co-creator of the Fairness Tool. The technology dives into datasets to find a correct biases.
This reliance on technology underscores the need to have a truly diverse set of developers, engineers, and other scientists who shape the everyday lives with innovations.
“We need technologists who understand history, who understand economics, who are in conversations with philosophers. We need to have this conversation because our technologists are no longer just developing apps, they’re developing political and economic systems, said Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future.