Posted on March 20, 2019

UK Government Probes Algorithm Bias in Crime, Recruitment, and Finance

Oscar Williams-Grut, Yahoo, March 19, 2019

The UK government is launching an inquiry into whether algorithms used in areas such as criminal justice, recruitment, and finance are biased against people based on gender or race.

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) announced the new inquiry on Wednesday. It will be led by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, an independent watchdog set up by the department in 2018 to come up with best practice policy on how to police artificial intelligence.

The Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit, which highlights discrimination in public services, will also work on the new review.

{snip} Tech giants such as Amazon (AMZN) have already run into issues of algorithmic bias in recruitment and Google (GOOGL) established a team last year to review the ethics of its AI.


Highlighting examples of potential pitfalls, DCMS said algorithms used to scan CVs and shortlist candidates could discriminate against certain groups of people due to the unconscious, or conscious, bias of programmers who wrote the code.

It also warned that the growing use of algorithms in finance could lead to a lack of transparency when applied to loans.

Amazon ran into trouble with an AI-powered recruiting tool that discriminated against women. {snip}

Google announced a set of AI principles last year to help guide the ethical development of the technology and introduced a “formal review structure” to oversea AI development across the company. Demis Hassabis, the cofounder of AI division Google DeepMind, is already an advisor to the UK government on AI ethics through the Office for Artificial Intelligence.