Companies to combat AI bias with forensic experts

New breed of specialist could help avoid in-built prejudice and rebuild consumer confidence

racial bias or racial profiling concept

Large businesses are about to start recruiting a new type of AI specialist with gusto, but perhaps not of the kind you may expect.

Incidents such as facial recognition software that consistently classified black women as 'male', or concluded that convicts with darker skin were more likely to reoffend than their white counterparts, as well as algorithms denying people loans based solely on where they lived, have led to accusations of built-in racism, classism and sexism in AI systems. This, in turn, has led to decreasing consumer confidence in this new technology.

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In order to combat these inherent biases  and restore consumer trust by 2023 75% of large businesses will hire AI behaviour forensic, privacy and trust experts, according to research firm Gartner.

"New tools and skills are needed to help organisations identify these and other potential sources of bias, build more trust in using AI models, and reduce corporate brand and reputation risk, said Jim Hare, research vice president at Gartner.

This new breed of expert will help organisations avoid inherent bias in their systems by validating models in the research and development stage, and continue to monitor them once they're in production.

Some big names have already got in on this trend, including Facebook, Google (which was stung by a racist AI scandal in 2015), Bank of America and NASA. For the moment, however, they remain very much trailblazers.

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"While the number of organisations hiring ML (machine learning) forensic and ethics investigators remains small today, that number will accelerate in the next five years," said Hare.

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