Are We Aware of the Biases Behind AI?

Have a look at the picture above. What do you notice? Obviously, they’re not real – these images are generated by artificial intelligence (AI). What else do you see? Apologies to anyone who isn’t the CEO. The more discerning among you may see that there’s no women in the images above (the possible exception may be the intern).

This is one of many issues we are going to face with AI. To put it in the simplest possible terms, AI tools are created by people. They also use inputs and data from other people. And every person out there has biases, regardless of whether they are conscious or unconscious. This issue is being amplified by those who are developing and overseeing AI; if your team aren’t diverse and inclusive enough, then you are going to find that AI replicates the views of its creators (for a simple write-up on the subject, have a look at this piece on the International Women’s Day website).

The same can be said for countries, cultures and religions. Rather than challenging them, AI tools can reflect open biases. At a recent conference in Riyadh one speaker suggested that Saudi Arabia should invest in AI, to effective counter false narratives (the story is here, though the headline is a little off). For any non-technical user of such tools, it’s very hard to discern how an AI tool works – you effectively have to look at the algorithm being used and the sources that the tool is scraping from. Conversely, countries can look to manipulate such tools to design more favorable narratives. Everything is a possibility when it comes to technology.

The other major issue I see, apart from the issue of languages (AI tools are predominantly English-language based) is the lack of information. Let me explain further. In a part of the world such as where I am, it can be a real struggle to discern a full understanding. There’ll be lots of press releases being pushed out, but the PR – surprise, surprise – doesn’t always reflect the reality.

I’ll give you a simple example. If I want to install a charger for an electric car in Abu Dhabi, there’s no way I’d know from looking online at company websites or news portals that I’d have to pay several thousand dollars for permission to do so. I’d have to make calls, follow up on emails, and maybe even visit an office. I can ask a tool such as ChatGPT to write an article on the subject, but it’d never be able to pull this information as it isn’t available online.

AI tools are the talk of the town (whatever happened to the Metaverse, I hear you ask). And these tools can be incredibly useful to generate content. However, we must always be mindful that these tools are only a first draft that we must review for bias and incorrect data. Let’s ensure that we don’t overhype a technology that still has a long way to go before it becomes mature.

On that note, I’d love to hear from you on your experiences with using AI tools, be it for designing images or written content. What concerns do you have? Share them in the comments below.