Posts in Bias
Can stereotype threat explain the gender gap in mathematics performance and achievement?

Men and women score similarly in most areas of mathematics, but a gap favoring men is consistently found at the high end of performance. One explanation for this gap, stereotype threat, was first proposed by Spencer, Steele, and Quinn (1999) and has received much attention. We discuss merits and shortcomings of this study and review replication attempts. Only 55% of the articles with experimental designs that could have replicated the original results did so. But half of these were confounded by statistical adjustment of preexisting mathematics exam scores.

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Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender Classification∗

Joy Buolamwini MIT Media Lab 75 Amherst St. Cambridge, MA 02139

Timnit Gebru Microsoft Research 641 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011

Recent studies demonstrate that machine learning algorithms can discriminate based on classes like race and gender. In this work, we present an approach to evaluate bias present in automated facial analysis algorithms and datasets with respect to phenotypic subgroups. Using the dermatologist approved Fitzpatrick Skin Type classification system, we characterize the gender and skin type distribution of two facial analysis benchmarks, IJB-A and Adience. We find that these datasets are overwhelmingly composed of lighter-skinned subjects (79.6% for IJB-A and 86.2% for Adience) and introduce a new facial analysis dataset which is balanced by gender and skin type. We evaluate 3 commercial gender classification systems using our dataset and show that darker-skinned females are the most misclassified group (with error rates of up to 34.7%). The maximum error rate for lighter-skinned males is 0.8%. The substantial disparities in the accuracy of classifying darker females, lighter females, darker males, and lighter males in gender classification systems require urgent attention if commercial companies are to build genuinely fair, transparent and accountable facial analysis algorithms.

Keywords: Computer Vision, Algorithmic Audit, Gender Classification

Full Research:

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Connotation Frames of Power and Agency in Modern Films

The framing of an action influences how we perceive its actor. We introduce connotation frames of power and agency, a pragmatic formalism organized using frame semantic representations, to model how different levels of power and agency are implicitly projected on actors through their actions. We use the new power and agency frames to measure the subtle, but prevalent, gender bias in the portrayal of modern film characters and provide insights that deviate from the well-known Bechdel test. Our contributions include an extended lexicon of connotation frames along with a web interface that provides a comprehensive analysis through the lens of connotation frames.

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ETHICALLY ALIGNED DESIGN A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems - IEEE

Introduction As the use and impact of autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS) become pervasive, we need to establish societal and policy guidelines in order for such systems to remain human-centric, serving humanity’s values and ethical principles. These systems have to behave in a way that is beneficial to people beyond reaching functional goals and addressing technical problems. This will allow for an elevated level of trust between people and technology that is needed for its fruitful, pervasive use in our daily lives. To be able to contribute in a positive, non-dogmatic way, we, the techno-scientific communities, need to enhance our self-reflection, we need to have an open and honest debate around our imaginary, our sets of explicit or implicit values, our institutions, symbols and representations. Eudaimonia, as elucidated by Aristotle, is a practice that defines human well-being as the highest virtue for a society. Translated roughly as “flourishing,” the benefits of eudaimonia begin by conscious contemplation, where ethical considerations help us define how we wish to live. Whether our ethical practices are Western (Aristotelian, Kantian), Eastern (Shinto, Confucian), African (Ubuntu), or from a different tradition, by creating autonomous and intelligent systems that explicitly honor inalienable human rights and the beneficial values of their users, we can prioritize the increase of human well-being as our metric for progress in the algorithmic age. Measuring and honoring the potential of holistic economic prosperity should become more important than pursuing one-dimensional goals like productivity increase or GDP growth.

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Automated Experiments on Ad Privacy Settings A Tale of Opacity, Choice, and Discrimination

To partly address people’s concerns over web tracking, Google has created the Ad Settings webpage to provide information about and some choice over the profiles Google creates on users. We present AdFisher, an automated tool that explores how user behaviors, Google’s ads, and Ad Settings interact. AdFisher can run browser-based experiments and analyze data using machine learning and significance tests. Our tool uses a rigorous experimental design and statistical analysis to ensure the statistical soundness of our results. We use AdFisher to find that the Ad Settings was opaque about some features of a user’s profile, that it does provide some choice on ads, and that these choices can lead to seemingly discriminatory ads. In particular, we found that visiting webpages associated with substance abuse changed the ads shown but not the settings page. We also found that setting the gender to female resulted in getting fewer instances of an ad related to high paying jobs than setting it to male. We cannot determine who caused these findings due to our limited visibility into the ad ecosystem, which includes Google, advertisers, websites, and users. Nevertheless, these results can form the starting point for deeper investigations by either the companies themselves or by regulatory bodies.

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Unconscious bias - The Royal Society

Adapted by Professor Uta Frith DBE FBA FMedSci FRS from guidance issued to recruitment panels by the Scottish Government


All panels and committees for selection and appointments at The Royal Society should be carried out objectively and professionally.

The Society is committed to making funding or award decisions purely on the basis of the quality of the proposed science and merit of the individual. No funding applicant or nominee for awards, Fellowship, Foreign Membership, election to a post or appointment to a committee should receive less favourable treatment on the grounds of: gender, marital status, sexual orientation, gender re-assignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins, religion or similar philosophical belief, spent criminal conviction, age or disability.

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