New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez never hesitates to speak her mind on any issue. This time, the 29-year-old representative is going after facial recognition technology, which she worries is racially biased. At a congressional hearing on Artificial Intelligence, Ocasio-Cortez grilled Joy Buolamwini, founder of Algorithmic Justice League, about the technology.
According to the Huffington Post, the exchange went like this:
“We saw that these algorithms are effective to different degrees,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So are they most effective on women?”
“No,” Buolamwini answered.
“On people of color?”
“On people of different gender expressions?”
“No, in fact, they exclude them.”
“What demographic is it most effective on?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
“White men,” Buolamwini answered.
“Who are the primary engineers and designers of these algorithms?”
“So we have a technology that was created and designed on one demographic that is only most effective on that one demographic, and they’re trying to sell it and impose it on the entirety of the country?” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “Do you think this could exacerbate the already egregious inequalities in our criminal justice system?”
“It already is,” Buolamwini said.
“When tech companies develop algorithms that automate the assumptions of people from one demo, they start to automate subconscious bias,” AOC tweeted after the hearings. “When those flawed algorithms get sold to law enforcement, it can be disastrous for anyone that doesn’t look like most Silicon Valley engineers.”
San Francisco recently voted to ban the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement because of concerns about bias. As awareness of the problem grows, other cities are expected to follow suit.
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