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AI Weekly: A deep learning pioneer’s teachable moment on AI bias

Facebook chief AI scientist Yann LeCun speaks with Cade Metz at a 2016 Wired event

Image Credit: Brian Ach/Getty Images

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard someone say Timnit Gebru is saving the world recently. Her co-lead of AI ethics at Google, Margaret Mitchell, said it a few days ago when Gebru led events around race at Google. Gebru’s work with Joy Buolamwini demonstrating race and gender bias in facial recognition is one of the reasons lawmakers in Congress want to prohibit federal government use of the technology. That landmark work also played a major role in Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft agreeing to halt or end facial recognition sales to police.

Earlier this week, organizers of the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference, one of the biggest AI research events in the world, took the unusual step of calling Gebru’s CVPR tutorial illustrating how bias in AI goes far beyond data “required viewing for us all.”

That’s what made the situation with Facebook chief AI scientist Yann LeCun this week so perplexing.