We Teach A.I. Systems Everything, Including Our Biases
Researchers say computer systems are learning from lots and lots of digitized books and news articles that could bake old attitudes into new technology.
SAN FRANCISCO — Last fall, Google unveiled a breakthrough artificial intelligence technology called BERT that changed the way scientists build systems that learn how people write and talk.
But BERT, which is now being deployed in services like Google’s internet search engine, has a problem: It could be picking up on biases in the way a child mimics the bad behavior of his parents.
BERT is one of a number of A.I. systems that learn from lots and lots of digitized information, as varied as old books, Wikipedia entries and news articles. Decades and even centuries of biases — along with a few new ones — are probably baked into all that material.
BERT and its peers are more likely to associate men with computer programming, for example, and generally don’t give women enough credit. One program decided almost everything written about President Trump was negative, even if the actual content was flattering.