Algorithmic bias describes systematic and repeatable errors in a computer system that create unfair outcomes, such as privileging one arbitrary group of users over others. Algorithms are written by humans so bias is written into the code s without being noticed. Algorithmic bias is found on many platforms including search engines and social media. Bias occurs into algorithmic systems because of pre-existing culture, technical limitations, or because it is being used by an audience that was not in the software’s initial design.
The following is a great video that explains algorithmic bias.
The article from WIRED entitled THE REAL REASON TECH STRUGGLES WITH ALGORITHMIC BIAS was written by a former employee of Facebook and he stats how Facebook is under constant scrutiny for being bias and it is always a topic within the company. He also states that he did not work with anyone that intentionally wanted to incorporate bias. From what I have read that seems to be a common statement. Programmers do not intentionally want to program bias. There own bias that they don’t even realize they have comes out or they use a certain group of people for their data set.
Joy Buolamwini was an MIT grad student who works with facial analysis software. She noticed that software did not detect her face and is now on a mission to fight bias in the machine world. Her ted talk video is interesting and a good explanation on how and why facial recognition is bias. I often don’t think much about algorithmic bias because I understand how computer programming works and I understand that it can be difficult to code something without bias. But she points out a good point that we need to make sure that there is no bias in software if it is being used in organizations like our police force in finding criminals.
So how does algorithmic bias relate to education? Now that teachers are using web based learning more and more teachers need to be aware of what educational software programs they are using. These educational software uses algorithms to choose what type of instructional content and learning experience students have and teachers need to be aware of the possibilities of bias. Ecucational bias can also exist when with students in career and college guidance as well as when hiring teachers.
Students also need to be aware of algorithmic bias and teachers can teach students the role that they play in our everyday lives and learn how to challenge it like Joy Buolamwini is doing. I found a lesson plan that does just that. I read through this lesson plan and really liked the way that it explained algorithmic bias and examine how they are present in students lives. The lesson starts with a video that students can relate with and I also found interesting. It explains how your new favorite song has already been chosen for you by an algorithm.