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Joy Buolamwini: How I'm fighting bias in algorithms

MIT grad student Joy Buolamwini was working with facial recognition software when she noticed a problem: the software didn't recognize her face -- because the people who coded the algorithm hadn't taught it to identify a broad range of skin tones and facial structures.

Now she's on a mission to fight bias in machine learning, a phenomenon she calls the "coded gaze." It's an eye-opening talk about the need for accountability in coding ... as algorithms take over more and more aspects of our lives.

Why you should listen

Joy Buolamwini is a poet of code on a mission to show compassion through computation. As a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Lab, she leads the Algorithmic Justice League to fight coded bias. Her research explores the intersection of social impact technology and inclusion.

In support of this work, Buolamwini was awarded a $50,000 grant as the Grand Prize winner of a national contest inspired by the critically acclaimed film Hidden Figures, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, Buolamwini's global interest in creating technology for social impact spans multiple industries and countries. As the inaugural Chief Technology Officer for Techturized Inc., a hair care technology company, and Swift Tech Solutions, a global health tech consultancy, she led software development for underserved communities in the United States, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Niger.

In Zambia, she explored empowering citizens with skills to create their own technology through the Zamrize Project. In the United Kingdom, Buolamwini piloted a Service Year Initiative to launch Code4Rights which supports youth in creating meaningful technology for their communities in partnership with local organizations.

Through Filmmakers Collaborative, Buolamwini produces media that highlight diverse creators of technology. Her short documentary, The Coded Gaze: Unmasking Algorithmic Bias, debuted at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and her pilot of the Code4Rights: Journey To Code training series debuted at the Vatican.

She has presented keynote speeches and public talks at various forums including #CSforAll at the White House, Harvard University, Saïd Business School, Rutgers University, NCWIT, Grace Hopper Celebration and SXSWedu.

Buolamwini is a Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright Fellow, Google Anita Borg Scholar, Astronaut Scholar, A Stamps President's Scholar and Carter Center technical consultant recognized as a distinguished volunteer.  

She holds a master's degree in Learning and Technology from Oxford University and a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Buolamwini serves as a Harvard resident tutor at Adams House where she mentors students seeking scholarships or pursuing entrepreneurship.

Last modified onSunday, 12 March 2017 13:54
  • Countries: United_States