What a picture of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a bikini tells us about the disturbing future of AI

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Source and Background

There are two readings associated with this week's topic:

  • The first reading is very accessible: Arwa Mahdawi makes the case that "discrimination [is] being baked into tech". The people creating that tech? Mathematicians and computer scientists.

    Arwa's article has links to several articles which you might check out, such as

    Let me give you a very personal example. My wife (who is Togolese) is very dark-skinned; I am very light-skinned. When we Zoom (as we have been doing a lot during this pandemic), we sometimes use a virtual background; when we do, my wife is far more likely to "disappear" than I am. We jokingly accuse Zoom of racial bias, but IT'S NO JOKE. Similarly, when taking pictures in Africa with cameras that have an "auto focus" feature, many will zoom right in on a white person in sea of black folks. Now why is that? It's not chance....

  • The second reading is technical. I noticed that some of you were saying in the discussion that you wished that you knew more about the source material (for Global Warming, say). Well, be careful what you wish for!

    While technical, I think that you can read it for some sense of how these algorithms work, and for the means by which Arwa comes to her summary statistics.

    For those of you with an interest in statistics and computer science, there are some interesting technical aspects to this research; for those of you with an interest in education, you need to be aware of what your students might be doing -- and might be subjected to -- someday!


  1. The title is very provocative (which, one might argue, every title should be). One of the contrasts
  2. Turing test:

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