16th December 2019

Ethical Artificial Intelligence and the risk of discrimination by design

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‘The development and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI) is growing quickly in Australia and across the globe. As the prevalence of artificial intelligence increases, so too do concerns about the possibility for design flaws to have far-reaching negative consequences.’

‘The concern that AI technology may reproduce bias via the people building it or the data used to train it has gained attention in several recent cases.’

‘A predictive healthcare algorithm, created by Optum, attracted criticism after a study published in the journal Science found that the algorithm discriminated against black patients. The percentage of black patients who should have been enrolled in specialised care programs increased from 17.7% to 46.5% when subject to human review by researchers. The algorithm used to set credit limits for Apple Card, Apple’s credit card launched in August this year, sparked criticism of gender discrimination following a series of claims, including one from the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, that significantly lower credit limits were being generated for women than for men in the same circumstances.’

‘Many existing services, such as financial firms, discriminate within the parameters of the law, making differentiations in the provision of products such as mortgages and credit cards. Protecting against unfair discrimination in such decision-making is not a new issue. However, a new fear inspired by emerging technologies is that our biases will be embedded in design, then amplified exponentially as human agency is forfeited in favour of the functioning of automated systems.’

‘In the Australian Government’s recently released set of AI Ethics Principles the principle of fairness directs that AI systems should be “inclusive and accessible” and should not result in unfair discrimination. The eight principles developed by the Australian Government, in addition to fairness, are: human, social and environmental wellbeing; human-centred values; privacy protection and security; reliability and safety; transparency and explainability; contestability; and accountability.’

Information from Lexology