Nonprofits that work to fight discrimination are increasingly shifting an eye toward artificial intelligence amid rising concern over algorithmic bias.
The latest: Several nonprofits are among the latest members for the Partnership on AI, a group established to address the ethical and other challenges presented by AI. The effort began with big companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, but now includes a growing roster of academic institutions and nonprofit groups.
Why it matters: With human bias, each generation represents an opportunity to break through stereotypes. With algorithms, bias will only reinforce itself and become less clear over time, so it's critical to address the issues when the technologies are in their infancy.
The details: LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD is among the new members, as is the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which was set up in 1970 as a think tank serving black elected officials. Other new members include Deutsche Telekom, PayPal, MIT's Media Lab and the Wikimedia Foundation.
What we're hearing: Joint Center president Spencer Overton said his organization is especially concerned with how AI could disproportionately impact employment in communities of color. Overton said that 27% of black workers are concentrated in 30 jobs at high risk to automation.
Among the first organizations to join the partnership was the ACLU, recognizing the potential civil rights and civil liberties issues raised by machine learning. Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts and board member of Partnership on AI, says:
"In some cities, police are using artificial intelligence to predict where crimes might occur and to deploy officers and surveillance technologies accordingly. Courts in many states are using algorithms to set lengths of incarceration. Disfavored communities and people of color who historically have been targeted for government scrutiny too often bear the brunt of dangers posed by these new technologies."
The partnership aims to spark discussion and collect best practices in areas ranging from fair and transparent AI, AI's impact on the economy, and the impact of AI in safety-critical uses.
What's next: Despite its high profile launch and growing membership roster, the organization is still in its infancy, with just five full-time staffers working out of a largely empty new office space in San Francisco.
The organization has been working to have a more global membership. It currently has members from Europe, India, Japan and North America, but not China — yet.
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