The potential for bias in the use of algorithms in a number of areas, including in financial services, will be investigated by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI). The establishment of CDEI supports the government’s wider industrial strategy, set up to make sure data-driven technologies and artificial intelligence are used for the benefit of society.
Professionals are increasingly using algorithms built from data to help them make decisions. But there is a risk that any human bias in that data will be reflected in recommendations made by the algorithm. The CDEI wants to ensure those using such technology can understand the potential for bias and have measures in place to address. It also aims to help guarantee fairer decisions and where possible improve processes.
Roger Taylor, chair of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, was cited in a statement as stating: “The Centre is focused on addressing the greatest challenges and opportunities posed by data-driven technology…We want to work with organizations so they can maximize the benefits of data-driven technology and use it to ensure the decisions they make are fair. As a first step, we will be exploring the potential for bias in key sectors where the decisions made by algorithms can have a big impact on people’s lives.”
In financial services, data analysis has long been used to inform decisions about whether people can be granted loans. But the rise of data and AI machine-learning presents increased issues about the transparency and fairness of such decisions. The CDEI plans to investigate how data is used to shape online experiences through personalization and micro-targeting – for example where you search for a product and then adverts for similar products appear later in your browser.
The center’s investigation will explore where, how and why online targeting approaches are used, and their impact on members of the public. Aside from financial services, priority sectors include crime and justice, recruitment and local government.