On September 7th the Guardian published an article drawing attention to a study from Stanford University which had applied Deep Neural Networks (a form of machine learning AI) to test if they could distinguish peoples’ sexual orientation from facial images. After reading both the original study and the Guardian’s report about it, there were so many problematic aspects about the study that I immediately had to write a response, which was published in the Conversation on September 13th under the title “Machine gaydar: AI is reinforcing stereotypes that liberal societies are trying to get rid of“.
Prior to the June 8th snap election there were two Commons Select Committee inquiries that both touched directly on our work at UnBias and for which we submitted written evidence. One on “Algorithms in decision-making” and another on “Fake News”.
As part of our work to contribute to the development of the IEEE P7003 Standard for Algorithm Bias Considerations we are reaching out to the community of stakeholders to ask for use cases highlighting real-world instances of unjustified and/or inappropriate bias in algorithmic decisions.
June was a month of conferences and workshops for UnBias. The 3rd UnBias project meeting on June 1st, hosted by our Edinburgh partners this time, was quickly followed by the Ethicomp and EuroDIG conferences which both took place from June 5th to 8th.
The workshop took place on February 3rd 2017 at the Digital Catapult centre in London, UK. It brought together participants from academia, education, NGOs and enterprises to discuss fairness in relation to algorithmic practice and design. At the heart of the discussion were four case studies highlighting fake news, personalisation, gaming the system, and transparency.
For algorithm based systems, as with many other topics, 2016 turned out to be an eventful year. As we close the year and look back on events, the course of 2016 brought many of the issues we intend to address in the UnBias project to the attention of people and organizations who previously perhaps had not considered these things before.