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TechTank

TechTank Podcast Episode 39: Civil rights and artificial intelligence: Can the two concepts coexist?

Artificial intelligence is now used in virtually all aspects of our lives. Yet unchecked biases within existing algorithmic systems, especially those used in sensitive use cases like financial services, hiring, policing, and housing, have worsened existing societal biases, resulting in the continued systemic discrimination of historically marginalized groups. As banks increase AI usage in loan and appraisal decisions, these populations are subjected to an even greater precision in denials, eroding protections provided by civil rights laws in housing. Meanwhile, the use of facial recognition technologies among law enforcement has resulted in the wrongful arrests of innocent men and women of color through poor data quality and misidentification. These online biases are intrinsically connected to the historical legacies that predate existing and emerging technologies and stand to challenge the policies created to protect historically disadvantaged populations. Can civil rights and algorithmic systems coexist? And, if so, what roles do government agencies and industries play in ensuring fairness, diversity, and inclusion?

On TechTank, Nicol Turner Lee is joined by Renee Cummings, data activist in residence and criminologist at the University of Virginia’s School of Data Science, and Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. Together, they conduct a deep dive into these difficult questions and offer insight on remedies to this pressing question of equitable AI.

You can listen to the episode and subscribe to the TechTank podcast on AppleSpotify, or Acast.


TechTank is a biweekly podcast from The Brookings Institution exploring the most consequential technology issues of our time. From artificial intelligence and racial bias in algorithms, to Big Tech, the future of work, and the digital divide, TechTank takes abstract ideas and makes them accessible. Moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West speak with leading technology experts and policymakers to share new data, ideas, and policy solutions to address the challenges of our new digital world.

“All Eye Overlord” by Aswin Behera is licensed under CC BY 4.0

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