iSchool Research Symposium: Meredith Broussard
Abstract: What if racism, sexism, and ableism aren't just glitches in mostly functional machinery—what if they're coded into our technological systems? In this talk, data scientist and journalist Meredith Broussard explores why neutrality in tech is a myth and how algorithms can be held accountable.
Broussard, one of the few Black female researchers in artificial intelligence, explores a range of examples: from facial recognition technology trained only to recognize lighter skin tones, to mortgage-approval algorithms that encourage discriminatory lending, to the dangerous feedback loops that arise when medical diagnostic algorithms are trained on insufficiently diverse data. Even when such technologies are designed with good intentions, Broussard shows, fallible humans develop programs that can result in devastating consequences.
Broussard argues that the solution isn't to make omnipresent tech more inclusive, but to root out the algorithms that target certain demographics as “other” to begin with. She explores practical strategies to detect when technology reinforces inequality, and offers ideas for redesigning our systems to create a more equitable world.
Speaker Bio: Meredith Broussard is an associate professor at New York University. Her books include "More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech," and "Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World." Her research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with particular interests in AI ethics and using data analysis for social good. She appears in the Emmy-nominated documentary “Coded Bias” and serves as the research director at the NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology.