Artificial bias

As the world becomes more digital, typical social values are applied to new contexts. This can lead to complications. For example, how can one ensure fairness within the framework of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems? The advantages of AI are clear: AI increases productivity and innovation, and makes data and predictions more accurate and less expensive. AI technologies are already in use in fields from medicine to finance. However, as AI spreads, it runs the risk of engraining gender and racial biases into its actions and results.

After all, AI relies on humans, warts and all. Machine learning algorithms interpret the data that they are given and can emulate prejudiced patterns with which they are presented, such as gender or racially skewed data. Such continued biases reinforce moral and ethical dilemmas, limiting the current opportunities for AI. AI systems should be neutral if they are to grow further, but they can only be as unbiased as their programmers make them. Thus, it will take conscious efforts to resolve these issues while maintaining the benefits of new technologies.

The growth and development of data and digital technologies such as AI are the focus of Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives. The report outlines digital prospects, problems and recommendations through the lens of seven policy dimensions: access, use, innovation, jobs, social prosperity, trust and market openness. In doing so, it provides strategies for the realisation of a just and inclusive digitalisation.

It can sometimes appear as if technologies easily grow beyond what officials can regulate. Yet with more awareness and concerted policy action, governments, citizens and firms have the opportunity to shape the digital future and mitigate the effects of human bias.

OECD (2019), Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Economic data

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Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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