Eliminating the harmful consequences of artificial intelligence technology is a goal every small business owner can get behind.
Failing to include a diverse group of people when developing AI has serious risks, and leaders of tech companies can play an outsized role in solving the issue. Angle Bush, the founder of Black Women in A.I, which provides Black women in tech with mentorship and educational programs, recently explained the severity of the situation during an interview with NPR. In the segment, Bush pointed to a case where a 43-year-old Black man in Detroit was wrongfully arrested on a shoplifting charge in 2020 because of inaccurate facial recognition software.
If researchers trying to teach a computer to differentiate faces don’t include people from all races, genders, and ages, the program will be doomed to fail, Bush explained. To make sure that a diversity of voices, opinions, and ideas create more equitable AI algorithms, Bush says companies need to change their company culture so everyone feels welcome.
“This is a system of unconscious bias when you don’t have diversity, when you don’t have people in the room to say, ‘well, let’s step back on this data,'” Bush said. “What’s happening is people are using historical data to solve current problems.”
In part, Bush says AI’s diversity problem stems from tech companies not being welcoming to Black engineers. She added that the U.S. government–and other countries using AI technology–also have a responsibility to learn more about AI development before rolling out more uses in the criminal justice system, financial systems and housing.
“Until we can get a hold and a grasp of how [artificial intelligence is] going to affect someone negatively, then we have to pause,” Bush says.