The Christian Science Monitor

Instead of amplifying human biases, can algorithms help fix them?

Source: Jacob Turcotte/Staff

Alexa. Siri. The voice that responds when you say, “OK Google.” These virtual assistants rely on artificial intelligence. They are increasingly ubiquitous, and they are female.

So far no Martin or Harry or Alexander. Ever wonder why?

Kate Devlin, a technology expert and senior lecturer at King’s College, London, says it may stem from biases that can lurk deep in human thought, perhaps even unnoticed. She recounts how, when she asked a developer of one of the digital-assistants why he chose a female voice, his answer was, ”I didn’t really think about it.”  

In sharing that anecdote in at the recent World Summit AI in Amsterdam, Dr. Devlin wasn’t alone in focusing on the link between gender bias and the fast-growing realm of artificial intelligence. In fact one of the hottest questions surrounding the technology is

‘Garbage in, garbage out’Fair gatekeepers?

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor2 min read
An Impeachment Trial The World Can Appreciate
No matter one’s view of Donald Trump, the Senate trial is a welcome display of accountability for people living under rulers who deny them the values of democracy.
The Christian Science Monitor3 min read
A Physicist Faces Entropy In Complex ‘Little Gods’
A mysterious scientist makes and unmakes herself in Meng Jin’s evocative debut novel, “Little Gods.”
The Christian Science Monitor3 min read
Powerful Women Writers Dominate The 10 Best Books Of January
Get 2020 off to a roaring start with the 10 best new books out in January. Classic authors like Zora Neale Hurston pair well with dazzling debuts.