Recent News in Artificial Intelligence


Fiona Irving-Beck, News Editor

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems have become increasingly applicable for many areas of
life—medicine, employment, and education, among others. While AI systems offer plenty of benefits,
there are challenges to ensure it is used advantageously rather than harmfully. The New York Times
recently published a story about an Amazon AI-based recruiting tool that was biased against women. The
program learned what constituted a “good” job candidate based on resumes of previously hired,
well-performing employees. However, because most were male, the recruiting tool learned to reject
female resumes, especially those mentioning women associations and all-female colleges. The program
favored resumes with vocabulary and patterns typically found in male resumes. Amazon ultimately
abolished the tool, due to the algorithm not being fair.
What can be learned from the Amazon example is that without thoughtful planning, AI
algorithms will propagate past trends, which isn’t always a positive thing. Such biases aren’t necessarily
intentional, but avoiding them is not always straightforward. Fortunately, steps are being taken to address
potential biases. The AI Now Institute, founded in 2017 by Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft, and
Meredith Whitaker, a researcher at Google, is looking at the social implications of AI. The institute
produces, “interdisciplinary research on the social implications of artificial intelligence and acts as a hub
for the emerging field focused on these issues.” For more information, visit their website.
The increasing relevance of AI in the world is also seen in changes to college curriculums.
Recently, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received a large donation to fund integration of
humanities and science/artificial intelligence in a new college that will open in fall 2019. The M.I.T.
Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing will connect new AI technologies to traditionally separate
fields. One positive impact will be the preservation and revival of humanities, which are often viewed as
not exact or precise enough to be helpful in the realm of technology. “We’re excited by the possibilities,”
the dean of M.I.T.’s School for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences said. “That’s how the humanities
are going to survive, not by running from the future but by embracing it.” By combining different
disciplines and unique viewpoints, technology will be implemented more intelligently and made
applicable to the modern world, politics, and ongoing issues.