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Article

9 Jul 2018

Author:
Joy Buolamwini, The New York Times

Commentary: When the robot doesn't see dark skin

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When I was a college student using A.I.-powered facial detection software for a coding project, the robot I programmed couldn’t detect my dark-skinned face. I had to borrow my white roommate’s face to finish the assignment... My experience is a reminder that artificial intelligence, often heralded for its potential to change the world, can actually reinforce bias and exclusion... A.I. systems are shaped by the priorities and prejudices — conscious and unconscious — of the people who design them, a phenomenon that I refer to as “the coded gaze.” Research has shown that automated systems that are used to inform decisions about sentencing produce results that are biased against black people and that those used for selecting the targets of online advertising can discriminate based on race and gender.

... Canada has a federal statute governing the use of biometric data in the private sector. Companies like Facebook and Amazon must obtain informed consent to collect citizens’ unique face information. In the European Union, Article 9 of the General Data Protection Regulationrequires express affirmative consent for collection of biometrics from E.U. citizens. Everyday people should support lawmakers, activists and public-interest technologists in demanding transparency, equity and accountability in the use of artificial intelligence that governs our lives.

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