Are we automating racism?

Vox host Joss Fong wanted to know… “Why do we think tech is neutral? How do algorithms become biased? And how can we fix these algorithms before they cause harm?”

She and her team made a brilliant video (racking up close to two millions views) to find answers to these questions. In it, she first tests Twitter’s cropping algorithm with two of her colleagues. Next she talks to Ruha Benjamin (author of Race After Technology) about the racial disparity in healthcare priority scores. She puts a bunch of racist technology examples on a timeline:

And she effectively shows how non-diverse the datasets that are used to train image recognition algorithms can be:

Fong ends the video by asking not just how to get rid of bias in algorithms, but asking what algorithms should be used at all:

Do we need a predictive model to be cropping our photos? Do we want facial recognition in our communities? Many would say “No”, whether it is biased or not.

Watch the full video by Vox: Are We Automating Racism? on YouTube.

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