mcloudyn.png
Tuesday October 15th, 2019 7:40AM

Democrats want feds to target the 'black box' of AI bias

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Congress is starting to show interest in prying open the "black box" of tech companies' artificial intelligence with oversight that parallels how the federal government checks under car hoods and audits banks.

One proposal introduced Wednesday and co-sponsored by a Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, would require big companies to test the "algorithmic accountability" of their high-risk AI systems, such as technology that detects faces or makes important decisions based on your most sensitive personal data.

"Computers are increasingly involved in so many of the key decisions Americans make with respect to their daily lives — whether somebody can buy a home, get a job or even go to jail," Sen. Ron Wyden said in an interview with The Associated Press. The Oregon Democrat is co-sponsoring the bill.

"When the companies really go into this, they're going to be looking for bias in their systems," Wyden said. "I think they're going to be finding a lot."

The Democrats' proposal is the first of its kind, and may face an uphill battle in the Republican-led Senate. But it reflects growing — and bipartisan — scrutiny of the largely unregulated data economy — everything from social media feeds, online data brokerages, financial algorithms and self-driving software that are increasingly impacting daily life. A bipartisan Senate bill introduced last month would require companies to notify people before using facial recognition software on them, while also requiring third-party testing to check for bias problems.

Academic studies and real-life examples have unearthed facial recognition systems that misidentify darker-skinned women , computerized lending tools that charge higher interest rates to Latino and black borrowers, and job recruitment tools that favor men in industries where they already dominate.

"There's this myth that algorithms are these neutral, objective things," said Aaron Rieke, managing director at advocacy group Upturn. "Machine learning picks up patterns in society — who does what, who buys what, or who has what job. Those are patterns shaped by issues we've been struggling with for decades."

President Donald Trump's administration is also taking notice and has made the development of "safe and trustworthy" algorithms a major objective of the White House's new AI initiative . But it would do so mostly by strengthening an existing industry-driven process of creating technological standards.

"There's a need for greater transparency and data comparability," and for detecting and reducing bias in these systems, said Commerce Undersecretary Walter Copan, who directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "Consumers are essentially flying blind."

Dozens of facial recognition developers, including brand-name companies like Microsoft, last year submitted their proprietary algorithms to Copan's agency so that they could be evaluated and compared against each other. The results showed significant gains in accuracy over previous years.

But Wyden said the voluntary standards are not enough.

"Self-regulation clearly has failed here," he said.

In a bolder move from the Trump administration, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has charged Facebook with allowing landlords and real estate brokers to systematically exclude groups such as non-Christians, immigrants and minorities from seeing ads for houses and apartments.

Booker, in a statement about his bill, said that while HUD's Facebook action is an important step, it's necessary to dig deeper to address the "pernicious ways" discrimination operates on tech platforms, sometimes unintentionally.

Booker said biased algorithms are causing the same kind of discriminatory real estate practices that sought to steer his New Jersey parents and other black couples away from certain U.S. neighborhoods in the late 1960s. This time, he said, it's harder to detect and fight.

The bill he and Wyden have introduced would enable the Federal Trade Commission to set and enforce new rules for companies to check for accuracy, bias and potential privacy or security concerns in their automated systems, and correct them if problems are found. It exempts smaller companies that make less than $50 million a year, unless they are data brokers with information on at least 1 million consumers.

New York Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke, who is introducing a companion bill in the House, said the goal is to fix problems, not just to assess them. She said it makes sense to give the FTC authority to regularly monitor how these systems are performing because it "has the finger on the pulse of what's happening to consumers."

But a think tank backed by major tech companies including Google and Amazon called the bill a misfire, arguing it unfairly singles out algorithms and could discourage the pursuit of AI.

"If a certain decision carries a high risk of harming consumers, it should make no difference whether an algorithm or a person makes that decision," Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said in a statement. "To hold algorithms to a higher standard than human decisions implies that automated decisions are inherently less trustworthy or more dangerous than human ones, which is not the case."

Castro also said it unfairly targets big companies and would hurt the product development process if a company needs to conduct a new assessment for every minor software update.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Most Fed officials see rates staying on hold for all of 2019
Majority of Fed officials believe Fed could keep rates unchanged for all of 2019
2:03PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Sen. Elizabeth Warren raises $6 million in first quarter
Elizabeth Warren raised more than $6 million during her first quarter as a presidential candidate
2:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Warren raises $6 million in first quarter
Elizabeth Warren raised more than $6 million during her first quarter as a presidential candidate
2:01PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump aiming to make it harder for states to block pipelines
President Donald Trump wants to make it harder for states to scuttle pipelines and other energy projects based on concerns about their impact on water quality.
1:48PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Sanders' adds long-term care to his 'Medicare for All' plan
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reveals a new version of his "Medicare for All" plan, shaking up the 2020 presidential campaign by reopening the debate over his call to eliminate private health insurance
1:25PM ( 52 minutes ago )
The Latest: CEOs see cybersecurity as risk for bank system
Wednesday's House hearing on banks is nominally about determining how much safer the financial system is, but few finance committee members are raising the subject
1:21PM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump says he won't deliver tax returns to Congress
President Donald Trump is facing an imminent congressional deadline for his administration to provide his tax returns but he says he "won't do it" while he's under audit by the IRS.
12:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
Heartbeat abortion ban bill nears final OK in Ohio
No topic seemed off limits as abortion-rights supporters in Ohio fought the latest _ and perhaps last _ battle over a twice-vetoed heartbeat abortion ban, which appears poised this time to be signed into law.
12:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump: It's up to Cain to move ahead with Fed nomination
Trump: It's up to Cain to move forward with Fed board nomination
12:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Congress News
Discovery says new Chip and Joanna Gaines to debut next year
Discovery says its joint venture with Chip and Joanna Gaines will start a new television network in summer 2020
1:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Nearly $1B in contracts awarded for border fence sections
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts totaling nearly $1 billion for removal and replacement of vehicle fencing with pedestrian fencing along two sections of the U.S.-Mexico border
1:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Western banks help Saudis raise $12 billion in bonds
Saud Arabia's oil company has raised $12 billion in a bond issue that shows Western investors are keen to do business with the kingdom despite the scandal over the killing of a dissident journalist.
12:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Stocks move broadly higher, led by technology companies
U.S. stocks move broadly higher, led by technology companies
11:34AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Ex-Goldman CEO seems happy to not be at hearing
Wednesday's House hearing on banks was nominally about determining how much safer the financial system is, but few finance committee members are raising the subject
10:57AM ( 3 hours ago )
Publisher of iconic black magazines files for bankruptcy
Johnson Publishing Co., publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, has filed for bankruptcy in a federal court in Chicago
9:26PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Science fact: Astronomers reveal first image of a black hole
Humanity has gotten its first look at a black hole
1:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
WikiLeaks accuses Ecuador of spying on Assange at embassy
The WikiLeaks organization has accused the Ecuadorian government of spying on founder Julian Assange
12:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
US praises German 5G standards as Huawei battle simmers
US cybersecurity official praises German 5G security standards, says they could effectively shut out China's Huawei
11:32AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Technology News
Most Fed officials see rates staying on hold for all of 2019
Majority of Fed officials believe Fed could keep rates unchanged for all of 2019
2:03PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Sen. Elizabeth Warren raises $6 million in first quarter
Elizabeth Warren raised more than $6 million during her first quarter as a presidential candidate
2:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Elizabeth Warren raises $6 million in first quarter
Elizabeth Warren raised more than $6 million during her first quarter as a presidential candidate
2:01PM ( 17 minutes ago )
US budget deficit running 15% higher than a year ago
US budget deficit in March running 15% higher than a year ago
2:00PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Police: 1 dead, 15 injured in North Carolina gas explosion
Police say one person has been killed in a gas explosion at a building in downtown Durham, North Carolina
1:55PM ( 23 minutes ago )