Biased Machine Learning Algorithms Raise Concerns over AI Applications (The Week in AI)

Biased Machine Learning Algorithms Raise Concerns over AI Applications (The Week in AI)

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Amazon’s abandoned recruiting tool, which used machine learning to automate portions of the search for tech talent, has reignited the debate about implicit bias within machine learning algorithms and the clear dangers. Reuters’ Jeffrey Dastin reported this week that the company had shut down a recruiting engine that was discriminating against women. The report found that the system penalised women’s CVs, even training itself to mark the word “women’s” as a negative, largely because the data set used to train them was ten years of software development candidates that were overwhelmingly men. The word “brogrammer” has not entered common parlance for nothing in the Valley. If you happened to be captain of the women’s football team in college or had attended a women’s leadership course, your CV could have been sent to the bottom of the pile.

While embarrassing for the company, concerns over implicit bias within data used to programme could be a major issue that stymies the development of machine learning applications.

It begs the question that, if it is hard to spot or control bias, should more testing be done before algorithms are let loose in real world situations where people’s futures are decided? Should more scrutiny be applied to the likely communications impacts?

The Independent asked in an article this week if it was time for software engineers to study human rights law.

News in Brief:

Around Whitehall:

MPs to quiz Pepper robot

Next week, the education select committee will quiz the Pepper robot about the impact of artificial intelligence. Whether they will get a balanced view from a robot remains to be seen.

Margo James celebrates Welsh tech sector

Digital minister Margot James celebrated new success metrics for the tech sector in Cardiff. Jobs in digital tech in Cardiff have grown by almost a third over the last three years.

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A Tale of Two Conferences: Who’ll be dancing the final waltz?

A Tale of Two Conferences: Who’ll be dancing the final waltz?

Written by Evan Byrne, Senior Account Executive, Energy Practice

Theresa May walking onto stage to ABBA’s Dancing Queen has drawn considerable attention as the ‘Maybot’ showed off her robotic dance moves.

What was most interesting about the choice of song wasn’t the dancing, but the lyric: “having the time of your life” – Theresa May certainly isn’t.

And worryingly for the Tories, Jeremy Corbyn might seem to be.

Labour’s Conference last week was seen by many quarters of the media to be a major success. Labour announced a raft of domestic policies that have been widely interpreted as its declaration of its intent to enter Government.

The Conservative leadership’s reaction to Labour’s success has been a policy holding pattern.

Cabinet members making no major announcements to an often empty conference hall, is a stark contrast to the speeches delivered by members of the Shadow Cabinet in Liverpool over a week ago.

Alarming for the Tory leadership was the 1,500 strong audience for Boris Johnson’s fringe event – worse still was the positive reception to the speech from the room.

There is no denying that Johnson has naked leadership ambitions. But one can understand his appeal amongst the increasingly pro-Brexit membership of the party, with his call to “chuck Chequers”, the Prime Minister’s proposed Brexit plan.

Johnson issued his own personal policy platform, championing the free market and low taxes, and calling for a return to “basic Conservative ideas and values”. In doing so, Johnson addressed a common criticism of the May Premiership: that there are no new ideas, it is too cautious, it lacks ambition.

And while Brexit is indeed one of the biggest endeavours embarked upon by any Government in this country, there are other issues that the Government cannot simply ignore: the housing crisis, health and social care, decarbonisation and climate change to name a few. It is clear that much of the general public wants to move on from Brexit, and quickly.

Labour – no matter how outlandish many of its policies seem to be – at least appeared to want to tackle these issues.

May’s speech made an effort to bridge the gap with announcements that the Tories will scrap the cap on local authority borrowing to enable more house building, and it would ‘end austerity’. But the speech was not a fountain of new policies. May spent much of it on unity within the Party, her Brexit plan (even though she did not once refer to it as ‘Chequers’), and criticising Labour. Even though many consider her speech to be one of her best ever, she remains in survival mode.

So as Conference season draws to a close, the contrast between Corbyn and May is stark – while both have visions for the country, one has a large and growing supporter base and is completely secure as leader of their party. The other position is much more precarious – and happens to be the Prime Minister.

For how much longer is now surely the question.

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