What we talk about when we talk about bias in A.I.

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.

Biased language

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 in the Classroom

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

(In)Justice in the Age of Information

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

The Tide of Authoritarianism

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