Quote: Why We Need to Work on Technology Debiasing

“One perspective on bias in word embeddings is that it merely reflects bias in society, and therefore one should attempt to debias society rather than word embeddings. However, by reducing the bias in today’s computer systems (or at least not amplifying the bias), which is increasingly reliant on word embeddings, in a small way debiased word embeddings can hopefully contribute to reducing gender bias in society. At the very least, machine learning should not be used to inadvertently amplify these biases, as we have seen can naturally happen.

“In specific applications, one might argue that gender biases in the embedding (e.g. computer programmer is closer to he) could capture useful statistics and that, in these special cases, the original biased embeddings could be used. However given the potential risk of having machine learning algorithms that amplify gender stereotypes and discriminations, we recommend that we should err on the side of neutrality and use the debiased embeddings provided here as much as possible.”

From: “Man is to Computer Programmer as Woman is to Homemaker? Debiasing Word Embeddings” by Bolukbasi et al. 2016, Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems.


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