From the looks of the current state of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. It’s for this reason that people have been sharing statistics on how harmful its bias can be.
According to a 2021 report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), AI tools — built by humans — have been found to worsen discriminatory practices against marginalized groups such as housing discrimination.
“These algorithms use data such as eviction and criminal histories, which reflect long-standing racial disparities in housing and the criminal legal system that are discriminatory towards marginalized communities,” the ACLU wrote. “People of color seeking loans to purchase homes or refinance have been overcharged by millions thanks to AI tools used by lenders. And many employers now use AI-driven tools to interview and screen job seekers, many of which pose enormous risks for discrimination against people with disabilities and other protected groups.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is among the government officials looking to tackle discrimination in AI across all sectors. On Nov. 15, 2023, during a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Schumer wanted to discuss the racial bias that has been built into AI. While he said that eliminating the bias would be difficult, he also sees it as an opportunity to “make the world a better place.”
“What we’ve said is that if Congress and the government don’t step up to form guardrails, nobody else would,” Senator Schumer said at the meeting.
“We are working on building guardrails to ensure transparency, to give workers a voice, and to ensure that the AI systems not only don’t increase the inequities in society but decrease them,” he added. “It’s an opportunity as well as a challenge. And I want to take advantage of that opportunity.”
As previously shared by AFROTECH, a Charter Works survey showed that 53% of Black respondents shared they are afraid of being replaced by AI, while the number of white respondents concerned was 39%, per Insider. Amid the fear, Senator Schumer stated that he’s been holding forums with leaders in the tech industry and in the civil rights and labor community to address these concerns. Critics of big tech have also been involved in the discussion on how to navigate the potential threat.
While there are people in the Black community who fear AI will cause people to lose their jobs, there are others who see it as a way to receive economic gain. During the meeting at the U.S. Capitol, Blavity Inc. COO Jeff Nelson shared how AI was one of the leading conversations at AFROTECH Conference 2023.
“This is complicated stuff and I’m excited about AI, but I’m also cautious and understand that if we don’t have leadership on this issue then it could potentially be very scary,” Nelson said.
“If you think about innovation, it’s always very scary but it’s very exciting,” he added. “It used to be the case that the limits of innovation were just the human imagination, but now with AI, even the human imagination is no limitation on what can happen… Also think about [AI] as an opportunity for economic power and wealth creation primarily for Black and brown individuals.”
During AFROTECH Conference 2023, Karen Pavlin, ServiceNow’s senior vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer, spoke about how now is the time for people in the Black community to get on board with AI as a tool.
“By 2030, there will be 23% more jobs in [AI], and now is the opportunity for us to get in and use our voice,” Pavlin said. “We need to be represented for sure.”