“The Coded Gaze”: Joy Buolamwini Poetically Explains Bias in AI

EPIC Advisor Joy Buolamwini is a computer scientist and poet who masterfully uses poetry and research to illustrate the social implications of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League in order to create a world with more equitable and accountable technology.

In a talk given at the World Economic Forum last year, Ms. Buolamwini discussed a term she coined, “the coded gaze” – which describes the priorities, preferences, and the biases of those who create code. During her talk she showed several examples of this by using facial recognition algorithms from top tech companies to see if they could accurately identify famous black women throughout history. Repeatedly, the algorithms mistook the faces of Sojourner Truth, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and others, for men. In fact, these algorithms were only able to identify the faces of white men with complete accuracy. Therefore, a big part of Ms. Buolamwini’s work is to find more diverse data sets. Since Al can only learn from the data it’s given, it’s incumbent upon coders to consider diversity in their data sets and continually check their own preferences and biases when designing code.  See Joy Buolamwini’s talk below.

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