October 1, 2022


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Siri, airbags, and facial recognition: Is the technology discriminatory?

Are new technologies discriminatory? A new presentation from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam addresses this question. Course Instructors Thesis: Qualitative characterization of technology has effects that are not only discriminatory but can also be life-threatening. Students Lisa and Margaret cite airbag systems as an example: initially many people were not adequately protected by these safety systems because airbags were developed on the basis of a standard male body. In the meantime, dolls, which are based on female anatomy, are increasingly used.

According to course instructors, more evidence of discrimination in the tech sector is online forms in which there are often only male or female options when determining gender. Another example: with Apple’s Siri digital assistant service, for example, initially only a female voice was available. It has been only since 2021 that Siri’s voice has been freely chosen. Artificial intelligence in gender recognition can identify white men more accurately than black women.

‘non-objective or gender-neutral’

With their course, the students at HPI . want According to the Hasso Plattner Institute, It turns out that “technology cannot in principle be seen as objective or gender-neutral”. Furthermore: “After completing the course, participants will not only understand that technology can reinforce gender stereotypes and discrimination, but also what to do about it.” regarding technology.”

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