AI Firms Perpetuate Race Issues in Culture, Technology Biases
A Washington Post analysis this week found that the economic gap between black and white households is the same as it was in 1968. While the high tech sector would seem to be color blind, according to a story on venturebeat.com, AI companies are having to face several race-related problems, especially now that the world seems to have woken up to the inequalities that have gone unaddressed for far too long.
In business and tech, a majority of videoconferencing firms have no black investors, and only a small percentage of venture capital funding goes to startups led by black founders. The donation of $2.2 million from Andreessen Horowitz this week, a firm with nearly $3 billion under management, to a fund for “underrepresented and underserved founders” is laughable. Only four Fortune 500 CEOs are black men. In a sector that has so much economic power, this lack of diversity is painfully obvious.
The AI community, much like the rest of the tech industry maintains a lack of diversity. According to a survey published by New York University’s AI Now Institute, as of April 2019, only 2.5% of Google’s workforce was black, while Facebook and Microsoft were each at 4%.
The lack of representation not only screams inequity, but it also can lead to perpetuating historical biases and power imbalances in image recognition services that make offensive classifications and chatbots that channel hate speech. For instance, a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study last December found that facial recognition systems misidentify black people more often than white people.
The protests around the world have offended just about everybody, but for different reasons and in different ways. When OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk was taking a break from bickering with Facebook’s head of AI theories on Twitter a few days ago, he pushed people to “take the red pill,” a famous phrase from The Matrix that’s been appropriated by people with racist or sexist beliefs.
The AI community should lead the way in preventing and addressing biases. Some programmers are trying to do just that with changes to video games. The protests have already made programmers place certain changes into the GTA games and others, referring to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter organization
Actually, it isn’t just AI or tech companies that should be looked at regarding systemic racism being built into the system. Its the entire system that needs inspection, reflection, and the inception of a new and better way to look at our world. AI certainly can lead in that matter.
The venturebeat.com article captures the issue and contains links to additional stories about the subjects covered above. The amount of implicit racism we experience as a culture can be identified and acted upon. And AI programmers and tech personnel could help to create the foundation of such change.
read more at venturebeat.com