Fringe Benefit of AI When It Comes To Bias
In the privacy world, AI is an evil word. Using data to track you, build a profile on you, make decisions about you, and it happens whether you like it or not. Basically everything bad. Even if all that might be true, I, a privacy advocate, may prefer AI over humans…at least some of the time. Hear me out.
Have you heard of the term ‘Conscious Bias’? It means that one knows they have a bias and consciously try to correct for it. The problem is, it’s hard to do and its ‘unnatural’. Humans have bias because it’s a survival mechanism. On the grassy tundra ten thousand years ago, if your friend got eaten by a lion, it only takes one repetition to learn: Avoid Big Cats.
Fast forward to 2020, if you’ve grown up and have been mugged on the east side, read about murders happening on the east side, and watch the news about robberies on the east side, you avoid the east side.
Where it becomes tricky is correlating each of these data points with other data points. If Latinos and African Americans predominately live on the east side and are in the news reports, what do humans do? They link Latinos and African Americans.
This is where ‘Conscious Bias’ comes in. I, as a 21st century forward thinker, will try to suppress this bias, and force myself to ignore the data and the correlation. But its hard to reverse eons of evolution and we’ve seen plenty of people slip up. One of the most famous is Jimmy the Greek, who said black athletes were the bigger faster stronger because of breeding during the 200+ years of slavery. Was he wrong or did the press vilify him not because he was wrong but because they wanted him to apply conscious bias.
Which brings me to my point about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Because AI can be programmed and very reliably for that matter, we can easily ignore what has given humans competitive advantage over other animals in the animal kingdom. We can program computers to not correlate gender, race, religion or any other trait that society deems in appropriate or not politically correct.
Whether this makes society better or reverses progress or evolution, I think time will tell. But humans have been successful so far and who knows, if computers take over the world one day maybe this is their achilles heel; programming them to ignore data points that humans simply can’t avoid using.