Can artificial intelligence be racist?

The hyper-racist bots posted 15,000 times in one day.

The rise of artificial intelligence has led to the creation of generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, that provide automated predictions based on large amounts of data. But as the use of AI reaches new heights, experts say the booming technology increases racial bias and discriminatory practices.

“Those tools are trained to make predictions based on historical data of what’s happening or has happened before. So automated predictions will mirror and amplify the existing discrimination in the context in which it’s used,” Olga Akselrod, senior staff attorney in the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Yahoo News.

In a 2020 study by Cambridge University, researchers found that AI causes unequal opportunities for marginalized groups. But AI continues to grow despite the inequities. Currently, 35% of companies are now using AI, and 42% are exploring the future adoption of the technology, according to Tech Jury.

“Predictive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, have been implemented in virtually every facet of our day, by both government and private entities, and impact truly critical decisions, such as who gets a job, who gets a loan, who goes to jail, and a host of other decisions,” Akselrod said.

Why there’s debate

According to experts, AI tools lack transparency and could cause disparities at an unprecedented level.

“Predictive tools pose a great threat to civil rights protections [because] they are used at an incredible scale that is sort of unmatched by individual decisions of the past, or even systemic decisions that weren’t made with the kind of speed and frequency that decisions are made today, using predictive tools,” Akselrod said.

Since racial and economic inequities already exist in society, Akselrod says AI tools will only add to that burden.