Algorithmic Justice League
The Algorithmic Justice League (AJL) is a digital advocacy organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded by computer scientist Joy Buolamwini in 2016, AJL aims to raise awareness of the social implications of artificial intelligence through art and research. It was featured in the 2020 documentary Coded Bias.
Buolamwini founded the Algorithmic Justice League in 2016 after a personal experience with biased facial detection software: the software could not detect her "highly melanated" face until she donned a white mask. AJL was formed to expose the ubiquity of such bias in artificial intelligence and the threat it poses to civil rights. Early AJL campaigns focused primarily on face recognition software, while recent campaigns have dealt more broadly with questions of equitability and accountability in AI, including algorithmic bias, algorithmic decision-making, algorithmic governance, and algorithmic auditing.
In 2018, founder Buolamwini collaborated with AI ethicist Timnit Gebru to release a landmark study on racial and gender bias in facial recognition algorithms. Their research, entitled Gender Shades, determined that facial analysis software released by IBM and Microsoft was less accurate when analyzing dark-skinned and feminine faces, compared to light-skinned and masculine faces. The work has been frequently cited by advocates and researchers since its publication, with over 1,000 academic citations as of December 2020. Its publication was accompanied by the launch of the Safe Face Pledge, an initiative designed with the Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology that urged face recognition developers to self-regulate. The Gender Shades project and subsequent advocacy undertaken by AJL and similar groups led multiple tech companies, including Amazon and IBM, to address biases in the development of their algorithms and even temporarily ban the use of their products by police in 2020.
A research collaboration involving AJL led to the release of a white paper in May 2020 calling for the creation of a federal office to regulate government use of face recognition. In July, AJL joined the ACLU and the Georgetown University Law Center in calling for a federal moratorium on face recognition technology.
In March 2020, AJL released a spoken word project, titled Voicing Erasure, that addresses racial bias in speech recognition algorithms. The piece was performed by numerous female activists and researchers in the field, including Ruha Benjamin, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Safiya Noble, and Kimberlé Crenshaw.
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- Buolamwini, Joy; Gebru, Timnit (2018). "Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender Classification" (PDF). Proceedings of the 1st Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency. 81: 77–91. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
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