Talk by Prof. Gabbrielle Johnson (Claremont-McKenna): Varieties of Bias
Tue, October 10, 2023 • 12:00pm - 1:00pm (1h) • Leighton 236 PIZZA PROVIDED
Many different things are said to be biased. People, of course, are biased. But so too are groups of people—organizations, news programs, political parties—as well as parts of people, such as a person’s visual system or their reasoning capacities. Sometimes inanimate objects, like coins or—most recently— algorithms, are said to be biased. What, if anything, do all of these types of bias have in common? As technological innovations pick up on and exacerbate human social biases, there is a pressing need for an interdisciplinary understanding of the commonality between different types of bias and the feedback loops that exist between them. This talk argues that what unifies bias in all of these cases is that bias is a tool for overcoming uncertainty. Like any tool, bias can be both helpful and harmful, depending on how the tool is used and whether it is appropriate for the task at hand. I demonstrate how with this unified theory of bias, we can identify weak points in the chain that allow us to disrupt these harmful looping effects.
Funded by the John Tymoczko Endowed Fund for Science & Society.
Event Contact: Daniel Groll