Is AI biased (and is that our fault)?

Is AI biased? and is that our fault?

Have you been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence  at work or in your personal life, and thinking you should know more? Join Kevin and Peju for an exploration of what AI is really about, why you should care, and what questions you need to be asking.

To kick-off the series, Kevin and Peju are investigating the topic of bias.

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Beginning with bias 

The problem of ‘biased AI’ dominates the public conversation around artificial intelligence today — with good reason. From GCSE grades to job applications, biased AI is already having a serious impact on people’s lives, disadvantaging some and privileging others. 

Unsurprisingly, bias also appears in almost every single episode in our series. Whether we’re discussing healthcare or jobs, fears about algorithms built on biased data appear again and again.

So, we want to start our journey by addressing bias: what is it, what impact does it have, where does it come from, and will it play an inevitable part of our future — or can it be eliminated? 

In starting our investigation here, we hope to shed light on a pivotal part of the AI discussion to come. After listening to this episode, you’ll be ready to identify bias whenever it appears — in our series, and in real life. 

Tackling bias with some expert help

Joining Kevin and Peju on this inaugural episode are two very special guests: journalist Angela Saini and technologist and author Dr Robert Elliott Smith. 

Angela is an independent British science journalist and author. She’s probably best known for her documentaries on the BBC, and her two books on the history of science, including her most recent: Superior: The Return of Race Science

Rob is the CTO of Mirza, a company developing tech to help close the gender pay gap. 

He’s also Senior Fellow of the Computer Science Faculty at University College London — and excitingly, he’s just published a book: Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms and How to Stop The Internet Making Bigots of Us All.

With Angela and Rob on-hand to help, we’re ready to delve into the most important topic surrounding AI today. Are you ready to follow us? 

Some important points to consider

We hope that you can listen to this podcast in your own time and perhaps revisit once you’ve listened to the next episodes on Jobs and AI, and Alexa and Voice Assistants. But even in an hour long podcast, we are only covering some of the issues and considerations surrounding bias in AI. 

So if you want to find out more, tweet us at @weandaipodcast with questions or suggestions on what to cover. You could also read these books which look at different aspects:

Algorithms of Oppression by Safia Noble

Rage Inside the Machine by Robert Elliott Smith by Cathy O’Neill

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Hello World:How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by Hannah Fry

Or you could watch the film Coded Bias online, directed by Shalini Kantayya building on work by Joy Buolamwini.

If you search the authors you can also find free videos on YouTube where they discuss their work.


To find out more about Kevin and Peju read our launch post here.

Peju mentioned the GCSE grading scandal which occurred when algorithms were used to determine GCSE and A-level results in August of 2020. 

Angela mentioned Data, a fictional character in the TV show Star Trek. 

Angela mentions a book by Jennifer Eberhart, Biased: Uncovering the hidden prejudice that shapes what we see, think and do. 

Kevin mentions the famous example of Amazon’s failed AI recruiting tool (find out more about this on our AI and Jobs episode). 
Rob mentions the science fiction novel The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s by American writer Neal Stephenson, which describes artificial intelligence as ‘pseudo intelligence’.