LONDON, ENGLAND - Artificial intelligence (AI) bias is rarely out of the spotlight as the sector continues to hurtle down the scientific highway, breaking new ground and changing the way people live their lives on an almost daily basis.
That existing biases are hardwired into algorithms replacing humans in the administrative and health and recruitment sectors, is information that often steals the headlines. A recent study published in Science concluded that an algorithm used in the United States healthcare system was more likely to refer sick white patients to medical programs than equally sick Black patients makes it easy to see why.
Amazon had tried to use AI to build a resume-screening tool by using resumes the company had collected over the past decade, Reuters reported in 2018. However, these resumes tended to be from men, which meant the system discriminated against women. In 2019, the Apple-branded credit card came under intense scrutiny because women were receiving less credit than their spouses with the same income and credit score.
Company boards are talking about these issues for several reasons, but first of all, to safeguard their reputations. As algorithmic bias becomes headline news, prioritizing fairness in AI means preserving trust in their brands. Firms that do not do so end up under intense scrutiny from campaigners and regulators, e.g., American Express whipped up a storm of controversy in 2009 when it notified some customers that their credit limit was being cut because an algorithm suggested they would fall behind on payments. The New York Times made it headline news, and Amex was forced to concede it would no longer correlate stores to risk.
Reputation is not the only issue, however. Algorithmic bias can lead to prediction inaccuracies and therefore to wrong decisions. A hiring algorithm that discriminates against female applicants ends up rejecting pThe content herein is subject to copyright by The Yuan. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. Such content from The Yuan may be shared and reprinted but must clearly identify The Yuan as its original source. Content from a third-party copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in such third party’s content appearing in The Yuan must likewise be clearly labeled as such.