Defining what’s ethical in artificial intelligence needs input from Africans

Defining what’s ethical in artificial intelligence needs input from Africans

Artificial intelligence (AI) was once the stuff of science fiction. But it’s becoming widespread. It is used in mobile phone technology and motor vehicles. It powers tools for agriculture and healthcare.

But concerns have emerged about the accountability of AI and related technologies like machine learning. In December 2020 a computer scientist, Timnit Gebru, was fired from Google’s Ethical AI team. She had previously raised the alarm about the social effects of bias in AI technologies. For instance, in a 2018 paper Gebru and another researcher, Joy Buolamwini, had showed how facial recognition software was less accurate in identifying women and people of colour than white men. Biases in training data can have far-reaching and unintended effects.

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