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Does Tech Discriminate?

Are we in danger of ingraining deep-seated prejudices into the technology we use on a daily basis? Our panel, chaired by The Gadget Show presenter Ortis Deley, discussed.

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Discrimination continues to have a serious, measurable impact on everyday life in the 21st century. Historically, conscious and subconscious human decisions have been the major driver of discrimination. But increasingly, the technology we rely on so heavily is becoming part of the problem.

Facial recognition systems, online search algorithms and social media echo chambers are just some examples of technology that has the potential to amplify discrimination. As machine learning and AI systems become more advanced, how do we ensure they are free of their creators’ prejudices? How can we create technology that works for everyone?

A panel of experts, chaired by The Gadget Show presenter Ortis Deley, came together to discuss and debate the issues, and to explore solutions that might mitigate the risks of bias in tech.

Speakers include:

  • Alexander Fefegha: co-founder and director of creative technology at design studio COMUZI. Alex is also an associate lecturer at University of the Arts London’s creative computing institute, teaching a module on computational futures and artificial intelligence
  • Alice Piterova: Managing Director of AI for Good, the social enterprise building AI-powered products for the most vulnerable and underserved. Alice has over 15 years of experience in business and product management, and a particular focus on such fields as tech for good, data privacy and machine learning
  • Charlton McIlwain: Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt and author of Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter
  • Malika Malik: AI practitioner, Data and Artificial Intelligence Architect at Microsoft UK and an advocate of diversity and inclusion in technology. Malika was on Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Women in UK Tech longlist for 2020, was a TechWomen100 Award winner in 2019, and is an expert advisor to the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI
  • Ortis Deley (Chair): The Gadget Show presenter, radio DJ and actor who has appeared as a guest technology reporter on programmes including BBC One’s The One Show and BBC Breakfast News

This event was part of the Science Museum Group’s Open Talk programme, a series of events that aims to share the untold stories of science and encourage an understanding of both the causes and effects of discrimination.