Against Black Inclusion & How I’m Fighting Bias
The discussion around algorithmic justice (especially with facial recognition) had been at the center of attention for a while now. I’ve thought a lot about it and concluded the following:
- I don’t think we’ll be solving the problem by eliminating the technology. Technological advancements have been a constant in human history except for a few cases where mass destruction (biological, chemical, nuclear weapons) or major ethical challenges (human cloning) are concerned. Facial recognition and its application are not qualitatively different from many other biometric systems such as fingerprinting.
- Though facial recognition is more powerful, it is not qualitatively disruptive as other technologies such as cloning humans. Thus, the technology itself should not be the subject of concern — it merely reveals and amplifies the existing systemic injustice and oppression. For example, it was mentioned in one of the articles that the US is planning on using facial recognition to trach everyone who is leaving the country. However, the same tracking system (implemented with fingerprinting) has been in the U.S. for aliens and in China for all citizens. With qualitatively different and destructive technologies, it would make more sense to control the technology itself, as its destructive quality is independent of its ownership and usage. Whereas in this case, it would make more sense to direct the fight for justice towards those who are using the weapon (the state, the government, the capital, etc.) than the weapons themselves (the technology.)
- I’m by no means downplaying the potential harm of misusing technology as a tool of oppression. As someone who’s lived in China and seen how technology is fast-tracking the blatant violation of basic human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet (and many other places around the world,) I’ve witnessed the destructive power of information technology. This is not new — IBM’s punchcard and computer systems found some of their earliest uses in the Holocaust and greatly improved the efficiency of ethnic cleansing. However, compared to other technologies, information technology does provide hope for more open-sourced, democratic distribution of power. Unlike military and nuclear power, which are held exclusively by the state, we see more individuals and NGOs leveraging the power of information technology to exert influence on a previously unimaginable scale (a recent example would be the involvement of civilian hackers in the Russian invasion of Ukraine; decentralized cryptocurrency is another example.) Though alarmed by its potential harm, I also remain optimistic for the future of technology and democracy.