The automation of sexism and racism

Four years ago, while preparing for a presentation, I searched google for a generic image of a “person” to add to my slides. Of the first 25 results, one (4%) had long hair. Three (12%) images were of people with dark skin (1 woman and 2 men; all with short or no hair). And, overall, there … Continue reading The automation of sexism and racism

Customers love our technology (Or… do they?)

The BBC reported, recently, that several major supermarket chains are trialling the use of automated technology to scan a customer’s face and verify their age, when they are buying alcohol. The reason for using this technology for age verification (as opposed to relying on cashiers to do so, in line with legal requirements) is, according … Continue reading Customers love our technology (Or… do they?)

Biases in algorithms – the case of Hello Barbie

Sometime ago, I saw a presentation by Val Steeves, Professor of Criminology at the University of Ottawa (Canada), about her research on smart toys. The talk focused on Hello Barbie, a Barbie-branded doll which is advertised as “the first fashion doll that can have a two-way conversation with girls”, and featuring “speech recognition and progressive … Continue reading Biases in algorithms – the case of Hello Barbie

What is a good meal? What is a good algorithm?

If I gave you free reign of the larder, and asked you to prepare a good meal, what would you cook? Something rich and creamy, to help me get through this long week? Or a vegetable laden pie, to help me get my 5-a-day?   It depends on your definition of good, right? Meals are not … Continue reading What is a good meal? What is a good algorithm?

The tree lost its bra

This time last year, this tree had a bra. Actually, 2 or 3. I can’t remember exactly how many. Not far from this tree, there is a bridge with lots of locks in its railings, tied by couples as a symbol of their love. It’s a tradition. Maybe the bra-thing is a tradition, too, I … Continue reading The tree lost its bra