How Artificial Intelligence Can Perpetuate Societal Biases

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With growing applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) there is a risk that existing biases and equity gaps could be magnified as algorithms often reflect the implicit biases of their creators.

The quality and quantity of the inputs we provide to AI are directly related to the outputs. The inputs provided are constrained by human choices regarding what data to include. The implications of not having a robust and inclusive data set can lead to the exasperation of inequities as AI becomes more prevalent.

This is exemplified by Amazon’s use of AI in the creation of a resume revision algorithm. The software received inputs about the resumes of Amazon’s existing engineers whom were predominately male. The use of this software recruited candidates that replicated the existing workforce. This replication was caused by penalizing resumes that included words such as women, as in “women’s soccer team.” Words predominately found on the resumes of men such as “captured” and “executed” were awarded additional points. This example illustrates that AI is only as robust as the data provided, and the implications of not providing an inclusive data set can have major repercussions for the inclusion of diverse genders, race and sexual orientations. Amazon programmers made many failed attempts to solve this issue, but the software was discarded. Recruiting tools with similar fundamental issues are currently being used by hundreds or organizations.  

 

AI algorithms will replicate and extenuate the biases prevalent in society; if the inputs are not carefully curated and monitored, prejudices will be magnified, leading to a lack of opportunity and marginalization of minority groups. 

Sources:

https://www.cigionline.org/articles/artificial-intelligence-could-magnify-social-inequality

 https://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights/womens-rights-workplace/why-amazons-automated-hiring-tool-discriminated-against

 

By: Jasleen Grewal

THE ABC’S OF L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.A.B.GF.GNC.GQ.NB.P.P.Q.2S+

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What does L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.A.B.GF.GNC.GQ.NB.P.P.Q.2S+ mean?

The initialism LGBT came about in the 1990s, intended to replace the umbrella term gay, used inaccurately to describe the whole LGBT+ community. While young people are increasingly embracing the notion of free and dynamic sexuality, rejecting sexual and gender labels, signifiers, and categorizations entirely (Edelstein 2016), the segmentation can still prove empowering, even comforting for many. 

The following definitions have been extracted from the National LGBT Health Education Centre’s Glossary of Terms. While it is by no means exhaustive, and definitions vary community by community and person by person, this compilation is designed to help communicate common, mutually understood uses and definitions.

Agender: Describes a person who identifies as having no gender.

Asexual: Describes a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy.

Bigender: Describes a person whose gender identity is a combination of two genders.

Bisexual: A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender and people of other genders.

Gay: A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender. It can be used regardless of gender identity, but is more commonly used to describe men.

Gender Fluid: Describes a person whose gender identity is not fixed. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more one gender some of the time, and another gender at other times

Gender Non-Conforming: Describes a gender expression that differs from a given society’s norms for males and females.

Genderqueer: Describes a person whose gender identity falls outside of the traditional gender binary structure. Other terms for people whose gender identity falls outside the traditional gender binary include gender variant, gender expansive, etc.

Intersex: Group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals do not develop as expected. Intersex is also used as an identity term by some community members and advocacy groups.

Lesbian: A sexual orientation that describes a woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.

Pangender: Describes a person whose gender identity is comprised of many genders. 

Pansexual: A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of all gender identities.

Queer: An umbrella term used by some to describe people who think of their sexual orientation or gender identity as outside of societal norms. Some people view the term queer as more fluid and inclusive than traditional categories for sexual orientation and gender identity. Due to its history as a derogatory term, the term queer is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBT community.

Questioning: Describes an individual who is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Transgender: Describes a person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth do not correspond. Also used as an umbrella term to include gender identities outside of male and female. Sometimes abbreviated as trans.

Two-Spirt: Describes a person who embodies both a masculine and a feminine spirit. This is a culture-specific term used among some Native American, American Indian, and First Nations people.

By: Mitch White

Ignorance or Embrace? 

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“This is color-free zone here. Stanley, I don't look at you as another race” says our dearest Michael Scott. “ Is it treating everyone equally without caring about people’s race, ethnicity or sex orientation the best solution when facing diversity? 

Honestly, at first I would say yes. It is definitely a safe way. Why bother potentially getting others offended while you can just ignore the difference. You don’t really want to come up to two girls holding hands in public and ask “how long have you guys being together?” or come up to an Asian guy and ask “Do you know Kong Fu?” What if they are not lesbians, what if he is not Chinese. Then in the end, all it leaves is some awkward silence. 

While on the other hand, if just ignoring the difference, we are just pretending everyone is the same. But that’s not the case. We are different because of each unique background, religion, age and culture. But we are also similar in a way because no matter what jobs we are doing, what education level, what family background, all of us share some same identities. 

 

She is a Chinese international 21-year-old student.

He is a Canadian Catholic retired solider. 

They might look completely different, but they both share the same identity as bi-sexual. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD8tjhVO1Tc

 

Therefore, Ignoring the difference is not a good long-term solution, because we never truly understand each other. Thus the misunderstanding might cause more future conflicts in terms of lack of knowledge towards other diversity.  So those questions might sound offended, might cause confusion, might not be polite now, but as long as we phrase in a politically-correct way, we are saving us from the long-term arguments. At the same time, we got the opportunities to explore other diversity we are not familiar with and we got closer to others. 

Remember when I first moved to Canada and met Abdalla, an international student who is Muslim Egyptian, I don’t know anything towards his religion or country. I asked tons of dumb questions like why do you pray, how do you pray, what can you eat, can you kiss a girl, can you drink alcohol, how does your marriage work, do you go to church? Man, I might sound like a complete idiot! But now he is my best friend! And I started not only understand him more, accepted his behavior more, I even tried to embrace his culture more by visiting the mosque, experiencing Ramadan.  

 Diversity is not ignorance. Diversity is not tolerance. Diversity is embraced, using politically-correct language in an environment where questions and concerns can be safely expressed. “We don’t have to pretend we are color-blind. That’s fighting ignorance with more ignorance. Instead we need to celebrate our diversity” quoted from Office Season 1 Episode 2 Diversity Day. So  start asking more dumb questions, start taking that step out of comfort zone and start embracing more to what you don’t know!  

By: Paris Qian