The Impact of Bias and Prejudice in AI: An Exploration by Tracey Spicer
In her recently released book, “Man-Made: How the Bias of the Past is Being Built Into the Future,” acclaimed journalist Tracey Spicer delves into the controversial realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to shape humanity. Through a feminist lens, Spicer raises thought-provoking questions about the future implications of AI and the embedding of long-held biases and prejudices within its algorithms.
So, how did the idea for this book come about? It all began with a conversation with Spicer’s eleven-year-old son, Taj, who expressed a desire for a robot slave after watching an episode of South Park where Cartman used offensive language to command his Amazon Alexa. This made Spicer realize that the future technologies were inheriting the subservient role society historically attributed to women and girls. It sparked her curiosity to investigate why chatbots in homes were predominantly voiced by females, while those in the banking and finance sector had male voices. Her ultimate aim was to identify the culprits behind this bias and explore ways to mitigate its impact on AI.
Unveiling the Bias Embedded in AI
According to Spicer, the bias in AI begins with the datasets used to train the algorithms, which are derived from the past. These datasets reflect societal norms and stereotypes, such as identifying doctors as male and nurses as female. Furthermore, there is a tendency to default to descriptions of individuals who are white, heteronormative, and able-bodied. However, the real danger lies in the machine learning process, where the bias present in the algorithm can become more pronounced over time. Spicer draws a comparison between machine learning and a white supremacist diving deeper into conspiracy theories, emphasizing the potential for AI to become increasingly bigoted.
Surprising Revelations and Alarming Consequences
During her research, Spicer came across a shocking story about “racist soap dispensers.” While staying at a Marriott hotel, a Nigerian tech worker encountered an AI-powered soap dispenser that failed to dispense soap for his hand but worked perfectly for his white colleague. This incident highlighted how even the smallest teams, usually composed of young white males based in Silicon Valley, can unknowingly create technology that disregards people of color. This raises serious concerns about the use of similar technology in self-driving cars and the potential implications for pedestrian safety.
ChatGPT: A Platform Perpetuating Bias
Spicer also shares her thoughts on the increasing prevalence of ChatGPT and its biases. When asked to generate a story about an engineer and a childcare worker, ChatGPT tends to depict the engineer as male and the childcare worker as female, reinforcing gender segregation in the workforce. Additionally, as new AIs are trained using scraped content from the internet, the existing biases are amplified and perpetuated. Nonetheless, Spicer encourages everyone, especially women and marginalized communities, to use ChatGPT and help train it to be more inclusive. By boycotting such technologies, there is a risk of silencing valuable voices.
Shifting the Conversation and Nurturing Equality
In Spicer’s view, the current conversation surrounding AI is flawed. She believes that tech billionaires calling for a moratorium on further development of AI are diverting attention from the harm it is causing in the present. The focus on a distant future fails to acknowledge the immediate societal damage being fueled by bias and discrimination embedded in AI. This damage manifests itself in the form of social divisions, increased wealth inequality, and deepening stereotypes and inequities.
Tracey Spicer’s book, “Man-Made,” offers a unique perspective on the ethical implications of AI within society. Through her appearances at the 2023 Byron Writers Festival, Spicer aims to expand the national conversation on this topic. With sessions on the ethics of AI, the feminist trajectory, and living disgracefully, Spicer’s insights will surely challenge conventional thinking and raise awareness about the urgent need for change.
Editor Notes: Encouraging Action and Awareness
Tracey Spicer’s exploration of bias and prejudice embedded in AI shines a light on the pressing issues we must address as we progress into the future. Her book, “Man-Made,” serves as a wake-up call to the imminent dangers of perpetuating biased algorithms in artificial intelligence.
At GPT News Room, we believe in the power of education and open dialogue to drive positive change. By understanding the implications of AI and actively working toward creating inclusive and unbiased technologies, we can shape a future that benefits all individuals. Join us in promoting ethical discussions surrounding AI by visiting GPT News Room and staying informed about the latest developments in this rapidly evolving field.