Popular culture often depicts intelligent machines as coldly rational––capable of making “objective” decisions that humans can’t. More recently, however, there’s been increased attention to the presence of bias in supposedly objective systems, from image recognition to models of human language. Often, these biases instantiate actual human prejudices, as described in Cathy O’Neill’s Weapons of Math … Continue reading What we talk about when we talk about bias in A.I.
(Note: This work was conducted with Robert Loughnan of the UCSD Cognitive Science Department.) The role of the news media is ostensibly to inform. In order to do this, however, the media must present information in a relatively unbiased way. If citizens obtain information about the world primarily through the media, and the media presents … Continue reading Bias in the News
Bias is real – and often harmful. It’s been shown to manifest in hiring decisions, in the training of machine learning algorithms, and most recently, in language itself. Three computer scientists analyzed the co-occurrence patterns of words in naturally-occurring texts (obtained from Google News), and found that these patterns seem to reflect implicit human biases. … Continue reading Biased language
Gender is now recognized as an important social issue. Politicians, the media, and laypeople alike are discussing and debating topics like the gender wage gap, workplace sexual harassment, and institutionalized prejudice. Another area where gender crops up is education. Teachers are constantly being evaluated, whether it’s by their supervisors or sites like RateMyProfessor.com. These evaluations … Continue reading Gender in the Classroom
Note: Many of the ideas below were adapted from their original form in Cathy O'Neil's "Weapons of Math Destruction", which discusses the devastating impacts of statistical models. If you're interested in learning more about how your life gets turned into data, I highly recommend it. The Big Data revolution has promised changes in many domains, … Continue reading (In)Justice in the Age of Information
 Why do people hold particular political beliefs? Why is there such a large and persistent divide, at least in the USA, on the same set of core issues? And why is communication so difficult between people holding opposing views? In the mid-1990s – soon after the publication of Newt Gringrich’s Contract With America … Continue reading One Big, Happy Family
Why are people drawn to authoritarian leaders? At first glance, support for authoritarianism seems counterintuitive. Common sense suggests that people like to be in control of their lives, and almost by definition, life under an authoritarian regime involves some ceding of personal freedom to the regime. So why do so many people willingly – gladly, … Continue reading The Tide of Authoritarianism