AI and Society:1-10 (forthcoming)

In response to calls for greater interdisciplinary involvement from the social sciences and humanities in the development, governance, and study of artificial intelligence systems, this paper presents one sociologist’s view on the problem of algorithmic bias and the reproduction of societal bias. Discussions of bias in AI cover much of the same conceptual terrain that sociologists studying inequality have long understood using more specific terms and theories. Concerns over reproducing societal bias should be informed by an understanding of the ways that inequality is continually reproduced in society—processes that AI systems are either complicit in, or can be designed to disrupt and counter. The contrast presented here is between conservative and radical approaches to AI, with conservatism referring to dominant tendencies that reproduce and strengthen the status quo, while radical approaches work to disrupt systemic forms of inequality. The limitations of a conservative approach to racial bias are discussed through the specific example of biased criminal risk assessments and Indigenous overrepresentation in Canada’s criminal justice system. This illustrates the dangers of treating racial bias as a generalizable problem and equality as a generalizable solution, emphasizing the importance of considering inequality in context. Societal issues can no longer be out of scope for AI and machine learning, given the impact of these systems on human lives. This requires engagement with a growing body of critical AI scholarship that goes beyond biased data to analyze structured ways of perpetuating inequality, opening up the possibility for interdisciplinary engagement and radical alternatives.
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-021-01153-9
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[Book Review] the Racial Contract. [REVIEW]Charles W. Mills - 1997 - Social Theory and Practice 25 (1):155-160.
Democratizing Algorithmic Fairness.Pak-Hang Wong - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 33 (2):225-244.
Do Artifacts Have Politics?Langdon Winner - 1980 - Daedalus 109 (1):121--136.
Power: A Radical View.Steven Lukes & Jack H. Nagel - 1976 - Political Theory 4 (2):246-249.

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