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Algorithmic Bias: Race, Gender & Tech's Elusive Moral Code

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Photo Courtesy Joy Buolamwini from the Coded Gaze
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On, today's program a discusion about the basic unit of Artificial Intelligence – The Algorithm.  What does it do? Who creates an algorithm? Who’s served by it? Who’s ill-treated by it? And why?

Sci-fi movies and books give us dramatic scenarios about possible dystopian futures,  impending singularities, and computers overthrowing their human creators and spelling the destruction of our species, but the reality is that Artificial Intelligence is already here, and we already trust it with some really important decisions.  But even in its infancy, AI is already veering off in seriously problematic directions.

Guest host Aaron Henkin sits in for Tom Hall today for a conversation about racial and gender bias in AI. Joining Aaron on the line from California is Dr. Safiya Noble, Assistant Professor at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California, and author of the book, “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism.”

And from WBUR studios in Boston, we are joined by Joy Buolamwini, the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League to fight coded bias, and a researcher at the MIT Media Lab where she is also working on her PhD. 

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.