This is a thought-provoking film about how various forms of biometric surveillance, artificial intelligence, and data science techonology can be biased in both implementation and use. Everyone should watch this film to understand the invasive, even harmful way that computer vision, automated decision-making, and targeted marketing can have real and lasting consequences for people. The evidence of discrimination is plentiful: Viewers hear about an AI recruitment tool that rejected all female applicants, a credit card application AI that gave women lower credit limits, an insurance algorithm that prioritized White members over people of color. The idea of machine neutrality is, in fact, a myth, the experts say. Left unregulated, Buolamwini claims, technology is like the Wild Wild West, so we need laws to make sure the technology isn't discriminatory. "People who have been marginalized will be further marginalized if we're not looking at ways of making sure the technology we're creating doesn't propagate bias," she says.
At other points in the film, a U.K. activist concerned about the Big Brother-like use of cameras in her country discusses how everything people do with technology means being watched, tracked, and monitored. Kantayya lays out the case for transparency, regulation, and activism with an impressive list of interview subjects (it's no coincidence that she focuses on women leaders in these fields) who make it clear that we, as social media users, are voluntarily offering so much information about ourselves that it's easy for data scientists and algorithms to predict our interests, behavior, and even vices. While marketing makeup and apparel might seem harmless, marketing ideas or political candidates is quite another. This film, along with The Social Dilemma, should be mandatory viewing for families to discuss digital citizenship, privacy, and the enormous influence that the tech industry has on our daily lives.