Ariella Brown

Algorithms' Dark Side: Embedding Bias into Code

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Ariella
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Re: Adding it, too
Ariella   2/22/2017 4:38:33 PM
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@SethBreedlove Oh, yes, I've been there. Even when you point out that said "policy" seems to apply to some people but not to others, they will not admit that people are the ones making the decision about application.

Ariella
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Ariella   2/22/2017 4:37:14 PM
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@Jessica @Zimana I hope you enjoy reading it. She also has a few articles avilable online.

SethBreedlove
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Re: Adding it, too
SethBreedlove   2/22/2017 4:13:05 PM
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Re " "Even algorithms have parents, and those parents are computer programmers, with their values and assumptions"  Very important point:  Algorithems appear to faceless but they are products of other people's motivations.  

It kind of reminds of when I speak to a company and I hear someone say "That's our policey." to which my response is "Your policey is what ever you say it is."  The same thing is true for algorithms.  The results are what ever it was programmed to be. 

RobertS453
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Bias, Profiling, Predictive Analytics
RobertS453   2/22/2017 3:12:02 PM
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Great topic for discussion and thought.  Some biases are intended.  Credit card companies intend bias against deadbeats.  Police intend bias against criminals.

Unintended bias are many.  Insurance companies red-line because actuaries make decisions based on false or irrelevant data.  Cherry picking is the opposite of bad data.  Most relevant data is excluded so decisions are steered to the preferred winner.  Both sides of the global warming debate love to cherry pick.

We outlaw generalizing that all Black people will not qualify for a loan just because a higher percentage have incomes below the threshold to qualify.  Racism overlaps profiling.

Predictive analytics is profiling.  When is it ethical to profile?  When is it immoral?  When a fleeing murderer is reported to be Pacific Asian about 5 foot 5 slight build south bound on 5th Ave, it is reasonable to stop for questioning people who approximate that description in that area.  But it is not reasonable to stop those who are 6 foot, fat or north bound.   To haul the person into the station for more questioning requires a larger burden of proof.  To arrest the person requires an even larger burden of probability.  And to convict the person requires the highest level of probability.

What is true of profiling a murder is also true of  employment, loans and all financial transaction.

What is interesting is the unintended consequences of the government imposing anti-discrimination (anti-profiling) laws.  The more the laws expand to cover ever more groups, the more the actions of humans exist to either game the system to their advantage or to avoid the system.  As a consultant I bounce from gig to gig and have many interviews.  Every interview I've ever had requires a college degree, which I lack.  Yet that has never been the reason to approve or reject me.  So why is college degree listed as a requirement for a job?  For the same reason that experience in a variety of skills is allegedly a requirement. 

Rarely does a new hire meet all requirements.  They are almost always waived.  Requirements exist so a qualified candidate can be rejected for reasons nobody wants tosay officially.   Qualified candidates for back office jobs are rejected for body odor, bad breath, uglyism and reasons that have zero to do with job performance.  Of course, on occasion candidates are unlawfully rejected due to race, religion, etc.

In conclusion, predicitive analytics, profiling, is inherently discriminatory.  When an individual has an X percent chance of being undesireable he is rejected.  That means the 100 – X  face unfair discrimination.  That is the essence of predictive analytics. 

When discrimination (predictive analytics) is used for voluntary activity, it is ethical.  When commercial ads or political news targets those who meet a certain profile it is ethical.  When government tells us what we must and must not profile we need to tread cautiously.    The ugly are the most discriminated against demographic group in the US.  Should they be added to the ever growing list of special people? Then next for short people?   At some point we need to recognize that life will always be unfair;  that laws and the use of government coercion cannot solve every problem.

Jessica Davis
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Adding it, too
Jessica Davis   2/22/2017 2:46:43 PM
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I remember reading about this book when it came out. I just downloaded it to my Kindle. Excited to read it, too.

Zimana
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Just heard about the book
Zimana   2/22/2017 2:19:22 PM
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I just heard about the book Weapons of Math Destruction through a friend who used it for a reference in his book. I am looking forward to reading it for my writings as well.

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