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Category Archives: AI

AI Will Not Reduce Discrimination in Hiring Practices. Does the Public Agree?

r x y, r “…I agree with Dr. Narayanan’s assessment that using AI to predict social outcomes is “fundamentally dubious,” but I don’t believe that AI is doomed to always be worse than humans at assessing job candidates for quality. This is not because we have reason to believe AI will ever be particularly good at making hiring decisions, but because, in my view, humans are pretty bad at making these hiring assessments to begin with. So long as AI can perform slightly better than a checklist plus a coin flip, it seems like AI would be at least on par with humans. I also don’t believe that AI is doomed to forever discriminate in hiring. I think it’s hypothetically possible to design an AI that doesn’t have a single racist or sexist kilobyte in it.

What’s less clear is why anyone should believe that the average AI system should be better at reducing hiring discrimination than the average traditional hiring practice. The idea AI proponents seem to have is that AI is more “objective,” and because there is less discretion involved, it is therefore less discriminatory. This is silly logic: if an employer made a rule that said, “hire the 5th white person that walks through the door,” this rule is trivial to objectively enforce. But obviously it is the rule itself that is discriminatory, not any discretionary wiggle room you can squeeze out of the rule. If your response to this is “actually, the choice of which rule to use was subjective, so subjectivity is still the problem,” then yes, that’s the point! Nothing in the process of building, training, and implementing an AI is ordained by God. The use of AI is up to an employer’s discretion, and the AI may just end up enforcing racist rules objectively…”

Banning facial recognition – it is not enough to ensure privacy

The New York Times Opinion – We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point. The whole point of modern surveillance is to treat people differently, and facial recognition technologies are only a small part of that. “…These efforts are well intentioned, but facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing… Continue Reading

An algorithm that learns through rewards may show how our brain does too

MIT Technology Review: “…In a paper published in Nature today, DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI subsidiary, has once again used lessons from reinforcement learning to propose a new theory about the reward mechanisms within our brains. The hypothesis, supported by initial experimental findings, could not only improve our understanding of mental health and motivation. It could also… Continue Reading

Why do customers buy seemingly irrelevant products?

Amazon Science – “Product search algorithms, like the ones that help customers place orders through Alexa, aim at returning the products that are most relevant to users’ queries, where relevance is usually interpreted as “anything that satisfies the users’ need”. A common way to estimate customers’ satisfaction is to rely on the judgment of human… Continue Reading

Water Peace and Security Partnership Predictive Tool

WPS – “Water insecurity is increasing worldwide. A third of the world’s people now live in countries that experience high levels of water stress, with droughts affecting around 50 million people and causing more than $5 billion in damage annually. These numbers are expected to rise as population growth, rapid urbanisation, increasing climate change and… Continue Reading

Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse As We Know It

The Atlantic: “Text-generation software is already good enough to fool most people most of the time. It’s writing news stories, particularly in sports and finance. It’s talking with customers on merchant websites. It’s writing convincing op-eds on topics in the news (though there are limitations). And it’s being used to bulk up “pink-slime journalism”—websites meant… Continue Reading

Will Artificial Intelligence Eat the Law? The Rise of Hybrid Social-Ordering Systems

Wu, Tim, Will Artificial Intelligence Eat the Law? The Rise of Hybrid Social-Ordering Systems (August 25, 2019). Available at SSRN: or “Software has partially or fully displaced many former human activities, such as catching speeders or flying airplanes, and proven itself able to surpass humans in certain contests, like Chess and Jeopardy. What… Continue Reading

The Decade in Legal Tech: The 10 Most Significant Developments

LawSites – Robert Ambrogi –  “In legal technology, it was a decade of tumult and upheaval, bringing changes that will forever transform the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. Feisty startups took on established behemoths. The cloud dropped rain on legacy products. Mobile tech untethered lawyers. Clients demanded efficiency and transparency. Robots… Continue Reading

The dark side of Alexa, Siri and other personal digital assistants

The Conversation: “Digital assistants can be found in your office, home, car, hotel, phone and many other places. They have recently undergone massive transformation and run on operating systems that are fuelled by artificial intelligence (AI). They observe and collect data in real-time and have the capability to pull information from different sources such as… Continue Reading