this post was submitted on 14 Apr 2024
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Proponents of AI and other optimists are often ready to acknowledge the numerous problems, threats, dangers, and downright murders enabled by these systems to date. But they also dismiss critique and assuage skepticism with the promise that these casualties are themselves outliers — exceptions, flukes — or, if not, they are imminently fixable with the right methodological tweaks.

Common practices of technology development can produce this kind of naivete. Alberto Toscano calls this a “Culture of Abstraction.” He argues that logical abstraction, core to computer science and other scientific analysis, influences how we perceive real-world phenomena. This abstraction away from the particular and toward idealized representations produces and sustains apolitical conceits in science and technology. We are led to believe that if we can just “de-bias” the data and build in logical controls for “non-discrimination,” the techno-utopia will arrive, and the returns will come pouring in. The argument here is that these adverse consequences are unintended. The assumption is that the intention of algorithmic inference systems is always good — beneficial, benevolent, innovative, progressive.

Stafford Beer gave us an effective analytical tool to evaluate a system without getting sidetracked arguments about intent rather than its real impact. This tool is called POSIWID and it stands for “The Purpose of a System Is What It Does.” This analytical frame provides “a better starting point for understanding a system than a focus on designers’ or users’ intention or expectations.”

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[–] [email protected] 1 points 3 months ago (1 children)

Maybe it’s a crude interpretation, but over controlling for all the the cause of a change, and removing outliers in your data that is training these AI models seem like similar issues when trying to actually understand the data

[–] [email protected] -1 points 3 months ago (1 children)

The data cannot be understood. These models are too large for that.

Apple says it doesn't understand why its credit card gives lower credit limits to women that men even if they have the same (or better) credit scores, because they don't use sex as a datapoint. But it's freaking obvious why, if you have a basic grasp of the social sciences and humanities. Women were not given the legal right to their own bank accounts until the 1970s. After that, banks could be forced to grant them bank accounts but not to extend the same amount of credit. Women earn and spend in ways that are different, on average, to men. So the algorithm does not need to be told that the applicant is a woman, it just identifies them as the sort of person who earns and spends like the class of people with historically lower credit limits.

Apple's 'sexist' credit card investigated by US regulator

Garbage in, garbage out. Society has been garbage for marginalised groups since forever and there's no way to take that out of the data. Especially not big data. You can try but you just end up playing whackamole with new sources of bias, many of which cannot be measured well, if at all.

[–] [email protected] 2 points 3 months ago (1 children)

You are pointing out specific biases that we already know about. The article you posted seems to posit using the data to find the unknown biases we have as well

[–] [email protected] 0 points 3 months ago

It's asking why don't we use it for that purpose, not suggesting that there is anything easy about doing so. I don't know how you think science works, but it's not like that.