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Algorithms help people see and correct their biases, study shows [Video]

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Ecommerce

Algorithms are a staple of modern life. People rely on algorithmic recommendations to wade through deep catalogs and find the best movies, routes, information, products, people and investments. Because people train algorithms on their decisions – for example, algorithms that make recommendations on e-commerce and social media sites – algorithms learn and codify human biases.

Algorithmic recommendations exhibit bias toward popular choices and information that evokes outrage, such as partisan news. At a societal level, algorithmic biases perpetuate and amplify structural racial bias in the judicial system, gender bias in the people companies hire, and wealth inequality in urban development.

Algorithmic bias can also be used to reduce human bias. Algorithms can reveal hidden structural biases in organizations. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, my colleagues and I found that algorithmic bias can help people better recognize and correct biases in themselves.

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