Oct 6, 2022 - News

D.C. wants to lead the fight against AI bias

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

There is a growing movement to stamp out bias in artificial intelligence systems, and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine wants the District to be at the forefront.

Why it matters: Automated systems can influence or even determine important aspects of Americans' lives, including healthcare, employment, housing, and education, Axios’ Margaret Harding McGill and Ina Fried report.

  • In the U.S., government regulations covering the new technology remain minimal or nonexistent.

Catch-up quick: Last December, Racine proposed a first-in-the-nation bill to prohibit the use of algorithms to discriminate against residents for opportunities such as jobs and housing.

  • The bill aims to strengthen civil rights protections in the city. It saw a hearing on Sept. 22, but its chances of advancing are unclear.

Driving the news: This week, the White House released a "Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights," calling for automated systems to include built-in protections.

  • The document describes five principles that should be incorporated into AI systems to ensure their safety and transparency, limit the impact of algorithmic discrimination, and give users control over data.

The report details real-world consequences of failures to put such principles into practice.

  • For instance, a hiring tool that "learned" employees were predominantly men rejected women applicants with résumés that had language like "women's chess club captain."

Last month during a White House listening session, Racine advocated for federal action to stop AI bias.

  • “Together, we can update our country’s civil rights laws by ensuring they prevent discrimination through tools that could not have been predicted nearly 50 years ago when those laws were enacted,” Racine said Tuesday in a statement.

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