Bias and Diversity

by | Feb 9, 2020 | ICT4D |

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” A common saying in the American english speaking world. It conveys the idea that the loudest problem (or person) most likely gets attention. “He who shouts loudest, wins.” This means something similar.

These are filters for us. We may not like them, but they do exist. Similarly we often create for the majority or the wealthy. So if you are quiet and in the lower economic bracket of society, not a lot works for you.

In a weird way, most search engines function similar. It’s not about shouting, but about clicks and attention. They rise to the top of search results, unless of course you pay to be there.

So when we think technology or AI is neutral and without bias, it fails at the first hurdle. It may be a different bias, but it is still a bias just the same. Knowing and understanding the bias is the first step in working with it. Ignoring or refusing to admit it exists is simply a fast road to causing harm.

Trying to pretend that racism, patriarchy, exploitative practices, discrimination, bias, and so on doesn’t exist is unacceptable. Our cultures and communities are full of it. Therefore, we should expect that it does exist, we should look for it. Yes, especially in our technology tools we use. And then, we can root it out, combat it. Trying to do this with a team of people who all look like you, have similar beliefs, and have had similar experiences won’t work. Diversity is key.

Photo by Markus Spiske


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