Can AI Reduce Bias Or Perpetuate it?

AI bias remains a major issue for the technology, one that could have disastrous real-world repercussions. (Credit: Igor Omilaev/Unsplash)

This post was originally published on Defender Network

By Laura Onyeneho

The headlines are full of promise: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can revolutionize everything from healthcare to transportation. But for many Black communities, the rise of AI comes with a chilling question – will it become another tool used to discriminate against us?

We already know how deeply bias can be woven into the fabric of our society. From housing algorithms that steer Black families away from certain neighborhoods to criminal justice systems that disproportionately target people of color, these hidden prejudices have real-life consequences. The potential for AI to amplify these biases is a legitimate concern, especially for Black communities that have historically borne the brunt of unfair systems.

Here’s the thing: AI is only as fair as the data it’s trained on. The AI system will be biased if the data used to create an algorithm is biased. Imagine a program used to predict recidivism rates for criminal justice. If the data used to train it is based on a system that has already disproportionately incarcerated Black men, the AI will likely perpetuate that bias, recommending harsher sentences for Black defendants.

Studies have shown that facial recognition software can be less accurate in identifying people of color. Algorithmic bias can also impact areas like loan applications or job placements, further limiting opportunities for Black Americans.

So, is AI destined to be another tool for oppression? Not necessarily.

We need to demand transparency in how AI systems are developed and used. Who is creating these algorithms? What data are they using? How are they being tested to ensure fairness? Black communities, civil rights organizations, and tech watchdogs need to be at the table, asking these questions and holding developers accountable.

The tech industry itself needs a makeover. Right now, it lacks diversity, with Black professionals significantly underrepresented in leadership and development roles. A more diverse tech workforce would be better equipped to identify and address bias in AI systems. Programs that encourage Black students to pursue careers in STEM fields are crucial steps towards achieving this goal.

AI also holds the potential to be a powerful tool for good in Black communities. Imagine AI-powered tutoring programs that personalize learning for Black students or AI-driven algorithms that help identify and address racial disparities in healthcare. The key lies in harnessing AI’s power responsibly. AI doesn’t have to be another oppressor.