Facets: Issue 23

September 10, 2016

The Hidden Dangers of AI for Queer and Trans People

Alyx Baldwin
"We don’t have to limit the potential of machines just because it’s easier for us to limit sorting in our own heads."

Alyx Baldwin focuses on what we impart to the machines we create and interact with, the machines which are supposed to make our lives easier. But if they inherit our limitations, they can do the very opposite. AI systems are already prone to misidentifying minority groups and, as the technology hurtles forward, it is a reflection of those who create it. Part call-to-action, part practical advice on the future of machine bias, Baldwin asks how we should teach machines about identity, when we don’t fully understand it ourselves.

Machine Bias

Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, & Lauren Kirchner
"When a full range of crimes were taken into account...the algorithm was somewhat more accurate than a coin flip."

A meticulously-done collaboration from ProPublica authors, on the hidden effects of the algorithms used to predict future criminals. Digging into the data behind the software, the authors demonstrate a racial disparity in its ‘risk scores'— and how unjustified high scores reverberate into sentencing, and into life after jail. They ask crucial questions of how we should approach the software we write, and the dangerous, unspoken assumptions we impart in the process. The full data behind the analysis is available for download, as are all the documents used in the investigation.

The Most Brilliant Woman in the Room

Reina Gattuso
"Our society has gender inequality built into its bones."

There are easy ways to talk about and understand gender inequality, Gattuso says, but it’s much harder to grasp the implicit ways in which our society turns women against each other. The impact on creativity, female collaboration, and self-perception among women is widespread and damaging. Gattuso’s piece is rooted in her experience as a writer, but has implications on how women are seen in every avenue of employment, technology among them.

Exploring the Long-Term Effects of Oppression on Marginalized STEM Workers

Siobhán K Cronin
"I felt the only way forward was to hide all parts of my identity that did not relate to conducting research."

What do we do when our work environments (both physical and social), even with the best intentions, chronically stress us in ways that we don’t even know about? Siobhan Cronin explores how different micro-aggressions and unspoken pressures within the STEM environment can affect the mental health of its workers. These environments impact fundamental ways in which our brains are wired; not just in overt oppression and harassment, but the small, everyday reminders of otherness.

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