AI Technology Struggled To Detect My Face, Until I Put A White Mask Over It

As artificial intelligence continues to transform our daily lives and power our world, we should ask ourselves: Are these technologies benefiting all of us? Or just some of us?

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| November 14 2018,

6:28 pm

When I was a master’s student at MIT, I worked on a number of different art projects that used facial analysis technology. I soon realized that the software I was using had a hard time detecting my face. But after I made one adjustment, the software no longer struggled. That adjustment? I put on a white mask.

Why does this matter?

The social implications of this are rooted in the longstanding marginalization of Black women, a disregard for not only our gender identity, but our very humanity. And the civic implications can be life-threatening.

As AI technology continues to evolve, tech companies have a responsibility to ensure that their products are used to strengthen communities, not deepen racial inequities.

And we have a responsibility to hold these companies accountable. We’re not having enough conversations today about how technology is designed, developed and deployed that also consider its dangers, and how it can deepen existing inequalities.

Let’s change that. Our voices together can create a world where technology works well for all of us, not just some of us.

Race and identity
Joy Buolamwini
Ford Foundation
AI
Facial Recognition
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