Racial inequality exacerbated by ‘white AI’
The “whiteness” of artificial intelligence (AI) removes people of colour from the way humanity thinks about its technology-enhanced future, researchers argue.
University of Cambridge experts suggest current portrayals and stereotypes about AI risk creating a “racially homogenous” workforce of aspiring technologists, creating machines with bias baked into their algorithms.
The scientists say cultural depictions of AI as white need to be challenged, as they do not offer a “post-racial” future but rather one from which people of colour are simply erased.
According to the researchers from Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI), like other science fiction tropes, AI has always reflected racial thinking in society.
In the study published in the Philosophy and Technology journal, they argue there is a long tradition of racial stereotypes when it comes to extraterrestrials – from the “orientalised” alien of Ming the Merciless to the Caribbean caricature of Jar Jar Binks.
However, AI is portrayed as white because unlike species from other planets, it has attributes used to “justify colonialism and segregation” in the past, the researchers suggest.