George Rebane: ‘Biased algorithms’: advent of politically correct artificial intelligence |

George Rebane: ‘Biased algorithms’: advent of politically correct artificial intelligence

Other Voices
George Rebane

Do you want to see the latest on how the progressives plan to take down our lead in one of the few remaining areas of technology in which we are still the world's gold standard?

Tolerated by formerly science-driven institutions like MIT, the ACLU with activist allies like the "AI Now Initiative" are starting to hold conferences at which they lament that "opaque and potentially (sic) biased mathematical models are remaking our lives — and neither the companies responsible for developing them nor the government is interested in addressing the problem."

The growing hysteria is built around the proposition that "algorithmic bias is shaping up to be a major societal issue at a critical moment in the evolution of machine learning and AI." Has anyone else discovered this "major societal issue"? The claim of the hysteria leaders is that the machine algos will somehow discriminate against the minorities and the poor, because they were either surreptitiously programmed to do such dastardly things, or they learned to do it on their own (gasp!) when given an objective utility function to maximize along with copious amounts of real world data.

The Left's activist elites have decided that government should somehow start regulating the kind of AIs we can use in our businesses and homes. These limited knowledge types (aka ignorant) believe that they can dictate through regulatory means how machine intelligence should continue to develop and grow so that it's the best for the most. This is the shared and overwhelming hubris of collectivists. According to their initiatives, we should prepare to soon see establishment of the Bureau of Socially Sensitive AI that will attempt to vet every machine-learning utility function, and then test/certify the performance of such AIs before they can be used by consumers or commerce.

It is argued that such intervention will make the machine algos more transparent, sensitive to human needs, and prevent the usual litany of discriminants that promote racism, sexism, homophobia, gender bias, xenophobia … you know the drill. Of course, those who are studied in the arts and technologies of smart machines know that this is madness right from the gitgo. It also harkens back to how Stalin sank Soviet agriculture by setting up bureaucrats under anti-geneticist Trofim Lysenko to tell the collective farmers how much to plant of what and when.

Today, scientific and technical knowledge expands at an unimaginable pace, and bureaucracies (government and corporatists) react, if at all, at a snail's pace. Most of what they claim to know and write into gun-imposed laws and regulations is already false. Ronald Bailey expands on this in "Half the Facts You Know are Probably Wrong."

Recommended Stories For You

But all this is still possible with the country now firmly in the grip of dumbth (q.v.). In the past and in the large, human ignorance was mitigated by market forces as economist Walter Williams once more points out in his "Human Ignorance and Market Genius." His "bottom line is that ignorance is omnipresent. The worst kind of ignorance is not knowing just how ignorant we are. That leads to the devastating pretense of knowledge that's part and parcel of the vision of intellectual elites and politicians."

And that "devastating pretense" is what overwhelmingly impacts the votes of the most desperate and deluded among us. Just listen to their voices as they mass and march on our malls and streets.

George Rebane is an entrepreneur and systems scientist in Nevada County.