Coded Bias (Shalini Kantayya, 2020) is a documentary examining at some of most pressing problems of our age, the nexus of societal issues like racism, genderism, ageism and several biases and machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence. If you have the opportunity to watch it, please, do it. It is now available on Netflix.
Coded Bias trailer
A few days ago had the opportunity of a live streaming of the movie followed by a conversation Joy Buolamwini (author of Gender Shades, an influential research on racial bias and facial recognition technologies and co-founder of Algorithmic Justice League), Cathy O’neill (author of Weapons of Math Destruction), Ruha Benjamin (author of People’s Science and Race After Technology) and Zeynep Tufekci, and other incredible researchers and activists, in an online event promoted by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF).
Here are some bits of the movie and the conversation that I think are interesting or newcomers to this discussion:
- The assimetry of the power (“who owns the fucking code”, Buolamwini) in the tech and data police making, gathering and implementation
- The soundbite “data embbeds the past“
- How there is no recourse or accountability most of deployed artificial intelligence and biometrics systems and services
- How powerful Facebook (and other platforms for that matter) are. They could say to regulators or political candidates: “If i churn X voters to you, you don’t regulate me” (A paraphrase of what is actually said by Zeynep Tufekci.
- Joy asking “who are the gatekeepers of the jobs” of the so-called 4th industrial revolution
- Joy saying: “people assume if the machine says, it is correct.”
- Kimberly Crenshaw highlighting how the law protect economic interests and the market by default.
- Algorithms don’t object or whistleblow when a company,the government or other institution does something wrong [By the way: algorithms, models, automated systems and robots don’t discuss and can’t organize themselves to demand better working conditions and wages]
- Ruha Benjamin and Joy discussing how there is great power in controlling the labelling and the decisions of using AI and how we need to create/change the language to highlight and reframe societal issues and related use of tech. [Which reminds of how the power of satire and parody for positive society change is understimated by some activists and parts of the academia]
- Crenshaw drawing the attention to the importance of fighting for tech literacy and real accountability