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Computers, algorithms, and artificial intelligence have touched every aspect of our society, from science, to communication, to the justice system. But despite their enormous power, computers have fundamental limits – problems that no program can solve, and thorny issues in fairness and human rights. During the 26th year of the popular Ulam Lecture Series, SFI Professor Cristopher Moore looks at two sides of computation – the mathematical structures that make problems easy or hard, and the growing debate about fairness in algorithmic predictions. These two lectures are self-contained, and can be enjoyed together or separately.
Lecture 2: Data, Algorithms, Justice and Fairness
Algorithms are being used to decide whether defendants will show up for court, whether they should be released on bail, and whether they will be good citizens if they are given parole. How accurate are these algorithms? What data are they based on? And how fair are they to different subgroups of the population? Over the past few years, a controversy has erupted over the issue of algorithmic fairness – whether these algorithms treat some people differently than others. Moore leads us through how these algorithms work, what they are based on, and how "fairness" and "accuracy" are slippery terms. Can decisions made by AI be explained to the humans affected by them? What recourse do we have if we disagree with them? Will algorithms help us move forward to a better future, or will they encode and enshrine the biases of the past?