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Democrats Introducing Bill Requiring Tech Companies To Check Algorithms For Bias



Photo: Zach Gibson (Getty)

Inside Silicon Valley, the consensus is that artificial intelligence will be the most important technology for the next decade.

An attempt to build in transparency and accountability into the next generation of world-changing technology, American lawmakers introduced to bills on Wednesday to require large companies audit machine learning systems for bias

Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Cory Booker introduced the Algorithmic Accountability Act on Wednesday. Democratic Congresswoman Yvette Clarke has an equivalent bill in the House of Representatives

Machine learning and artificial intelligence already powers a deceptively wide sweep of crucial processes and tools like facial recognition, self-driving cars, ad targeting, customer service, content moderation , policing, hiring, and even war. It's a huge list, and sometimes it's fun to sit back and marvel at how different all those uses are.

Exactly how these decisions are made and whether they are fair, however, are often opaque or unknowable. That problem has led to this attempt to open the "black box."

training data “for impacts on accuracy, fairness, bias, discrimination, privacy and security.”

Companies about over one million individuals would be targeted by the bill.

"Computers are increasingly involved in so many of the key decisions Americans make with their daily lives — whether somebody can buy a home, get a job or go to jail, ”said in an interview with The Associated Press.

This is not a hypothetical scenario. Look at a situation that arose at Amazon in 2018. The American tech giant, a world leader in AI, used the technology to help decide which applications it should interview for jobs. After two years of design, they found that anybody was automatically traced to the back of the list.

Kate Crawford's AI Now Institute discussed the recent incident with Kara Swisher.

things, ”Crawford said. “One, it's actually much harder to automate these tools than you might imagine, because Amazon's got some pretty great engineers. It's not like they don't know what they're doing. It also tells you something about the arrows that they had. What were they training on? What was the training data? Surprise, surprise: a lot of white dudes basically their entire engineering pool. ”

Within the last month, Facebook's discriminatory ads practices came into the spotlight and the company now also faces charges from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act.

"By requiring large companies to turn a blind eye towards unintended impacts on their automated systems, the Algorithmic Accountability Act ensures 21st Century technologies are tools of empowerment, rather than marginalization, while also bolstering the security. and privacy of all consumers, "Clarke said.


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