Timnit Gebru has been in the news ever since she posted a series of tweets, that stated that she was forced out of Google. But did you know, she is not a new name in the field of AI ethics? Let’s know more about her most prominent research work and its subsequent impact.
Crux of the Matter
Who Is She?
Dr. Timnit is an Eritrean-American computer scientist and pioneering researcher on algorithmic bias and the ex-technical co-lead of Google’s Ethical AI Team.
She also co-founded ‘Black in AI‘ group, which works on both diversity in the A.I. field and bias in the data sets it relies on. Thus, it is a place for sharing ideas and discussing initiatives that increase the presence of Black people in AI.
What Is She Best Known For?
Gebru’s co-authorship with an MIT scientist and digital activist, Joy buolamwini, lead to the creation of an influential 2018 paper on bias in facial recognition software.
The findings stated that 3 leading facial recognition systems were far more likely to misidentify women and people of color than white men. Apparently, the American Civil Liberties Union used the research on members of Congress via Amazon’s Recognition system, which mismatched 28 of them to jailed people. So if Congress members could be misidentified by facial recognition, then their constituents could be too.
What Was Its Impact?
Tech multinationals that previously defended their facial recognition (FC) products, retracted from offering their APIs, stating a lack of federal laws for regulating technology. IBM and Microsoft announced that it would no longer offer facial recognition. Then after George Floyd’s tragic death, even Amazon said it would pause selling its facial recognition to the police for a year.
To know what exactly happened between Timnit and Google, click here.
- The AI effect occurs when onlookers discount the behavior of an artificial intelligence program by arguing that it is not real intelligence. Author Pamela McCorduck writes: “It’s part of the history of the field of artificial intelligence that every time somebody figured out how to make a computer do something, there was a chorus of critics to say, ‘that’s not thinking’.”
- Her is a 2013 American science-fiction romantic comedy film. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an artificially intelligent virtual assistant personified through a female voice.
- An eigenface is the name given to a set of eigenvectors when used in the computer vision problem of human face recognition. The approach of using eigenfaces for recognition was developed by Sirovich and Kirby (1987).