Greene and Rep. Marie Newman were sparring over the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Automated decision-making tools are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our world. However, many of the machine learning (ML) models behind them — from facial recognition systems to online advertisements — show clear evidence of racial and gender biases. As ML models become more widely adopted, special care and expertise are needed to ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) improves the bottom line fairly.ML models should target and eliminate biases rather than exacerbate discrimination. But in order to build fair AI models, we must first build better methods to identify the root causes of bias in AI. We must understand how a biased AI model learns a biased relationship between its inputs and outputs.To read this article in full, please click here
You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.No.10 is quietly pleased at the reaction to Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” for exiting lockdown. Snap opinion polls showed public support and on the whole Tory backbenchers have been muted in their dissent.But what is slowly dawning on MPs of all parties is that the “COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021” document (to give it its formal title) isn’t so much an AA-style atlas as a medieval map with lots of unchartered or dangerous territory.And four key areas marked “Here Be Dragons” are the “reviews” announced. All cover important topics, but if any one of them is implemented badly they could seriously disrupt the government’s wider strategy. Social distancing rules and masks, overseas travel and open-air events, all have hidden perils.Yet perhaps the most tricky of all is the review of “COVID-status certification”, and whether it could play a role in “reopening the economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety”.The project will look at the ethical, equalities, privacy, legal and operational aspects of what are popularly called “immunity passports”. There was scant detail in the roadmap on the remit of this review or its exact timing of publication (other than it will be before June 21). While some form of international vaccine passport is seen as sensible, a domestic one is altogether trickier politically.It was announced today that Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office will lead the work, and we began to also get the first clues as to what the project could involve. Perhaps most intriguing is the suggestion (as we reported HERE) of using the NHS App to carry evidence of negative tests and vaccinations that could then help people access events.The NHS App, which is used to book appointments, would need some scaling up. It is different from the NHS Covid App, and has many fewer users. But it doesn’t have the same privacy issues as its better known cousin, because it is already used to let people see their medical records and shares results with GP databases.To avoid the charge that it was somehow making vaccinations compulsory by the back door, the government is looking at using both vaccination records and negative Covid tests (probably a lateral flow test) as part of this new digital certification. Rather than focusing on vaccinations, it’s the rapid tests for Operation Moonshot access to live events that attracts some in Whitehall.Government insiders believe owners of premises already have the legal discretion to pick and choose customers, as long as no discrimination laws are breached. The demand to show a “health certificate” could possibly fit that. Similarly, Chris Whitty’s remarks on Monday about a “professional expectation” to get a vaccination for NHS and care staff opens up at least the possibility of a “no jab, no job” policy.Johnson himself notably ruled little out on Tuesday, saying that while “fervent libertarians” will oppose it, “other people will think there’s a case for it”. If a digital certificate was used not for public services but to reassure others who want a mask-free, cheek-by-jowl experience at the theatre or a football match, some in government think it can work.There is already however a growing body of opposition. Some 177,000 people have signed a Commons e-petition opposing “Vaccine Passports”. Civil liberties groups like Liberty and Big Brother Watch are on the march, and some Tory lockdown sceptics are worried too. On the Zoom with the PM last night, Steve Baker forced Johnson into denying there was any hidden agenda with the review.And given that Tony Blair has said some form of domestic or overseas health passport is now “inevitable”, that in itself has revived memories of the former PM’s ill-fated ID cards plans. Don’t forget that one of the most vigorous opponents of those plans was David Davis, one of the quieter lockdown sceptics but who can carry others with him.Could Boris Johnson get plans for an “immunity passport” through the Commons, if Labour decide against it? Well, that brings us to the other broader issue of accountability and transparency that the roadmap raises. There will be just two parliamentary votes on the plans, a minor one to tweak regulations to allow people to sit down by March 29, and a bigger one to approve the entire regulations that will run until June 21.The statutory instrument votes will be like previous ones, unamendable and therefore “all or nothing” in their nature (which makes it difficult for Keir Starmer to oppose). Yet there could be serious discontent that MPs will have just one big vote before Easter and then have no say at all for many weeks.In fact, we learned from No.10 today a small but significant fact: instead of having statutory reviews of the lockdown measures every two weeks at present, the statutory reviews will take place every five weeks. Again, that will feel to many MPs in all parties like a reduction in accountability.The mood of Tory MP wasn’t lightened either by today’s refusal by Gove and Matt Hancock of a formal invite by the Public Administration Select Committee to give evidence on “the data underpinning Covid-19 decisions”.Add in Nicola Sturgeon’s decision today to opt for regional tiers that Johnson has ruled out, and (as I pointed out last night), it’s easy to see why there’s growing Tory backbench unease about the direction of travel – or lack of it. Immunity passports may be closer than ever, but the PM isn’t immune from the restless nature of his backbenches.Related...Covid Cases Fall To Lowest Level Since Early OctoberNHS App Could Become 'Health Passport' To Prove Covid-Free StatusBoris Johnson Claims Journalists Are 'Always Abusing People’
The NHS Covid app could be used as a “health passport” that includes vaccinations and negative test results to allow access to live events and nightclubs.It is understood that the government’s new review of “Covid certification” will include the option of using the smartphone app that has been downloaded 21 million times since its launch last year.The idea of digital “immunity certificates” for use both at home and abroad has grown in recent weeks, with figures like former PM Tony Blair saying they will become “inevitable”.Although ministers have long denied they back “vaccine passports” for access to domestic services, the new “roadmap” published on Monday included a review of certification to be led by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.Whitehall is looking at the idea of using both vaccinations and negative Covid test results to allow the public to attend certain events, perhaps live sports, nightclubs or theatre without social distancing.By including negative rapid flow test results within a certain period, the NHS app would avoid any suggestion that those who refuse a vaccination are being discriminated against.The new Gove review will look at whether employers can use existing legal discretion to bar people from their premises if they lack such certification, as long as other statutory safeguards on discrimination are maintained.Speaking on Tuesday, Boris Johnson acknowledged the “deep and complex issues” surrounding the introduction of immunity certificates.Gove “will be getting the best scientific, moral, philosophical, ethical viewpoints on it and will work out a way forward,” Johnson said.“The fervent libertarians will reject but other people will think there’s a case for it.“This is an area where we’re looking at a novelty for our country, we haven’t had stuff like this before, we’ve never thought in terms of having something that you have to show to go to a pub or a theatre.“There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, and ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating or for people to have such a thing or indeed in banning from people doing such a thing,” the prime minister added. Johnson is also keen to use the UK’s leadership of the G7 group of wealthy nations to promote an internationally recognised coronavirus vaccination records to allow foreign travel.“It’s going to need an international consensus to be built on how to allow for greater foreign travel, and that’s why we’re going to try and do that via the G7 and through other sort of multilateral discussions,” a No.10 spokesman said.“Because it will be for different countries to determine their own regimes in relation to the quarantine and who they want to allow in, and we want to try and work together to get some sort of international framework.”The latest “roadmap” states that the UK will work with the World Health Organisation and others but warns that any such system will take time to implement.“It will be heavily dependent on improved scientific understanding about the role vaccination plays in reducing transmission,” it said.Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Holyrood parliament that “vaccine passports” were not appropriate for accessing public services, but she refused to rule out their use in some form.“I think it’s not straightforward, it’s not simple ... I don’t close my mind to this, but I think, like everybody else, we want to think through this carefully,” she said.“And if some kind of mechanism like this can give us some greater normality back at some stage that we wouldn’t otherwise get, then let’s think about that.”Related...Vaccine Passports For Pubs And Theatres To Be ReviewedBoris Johnson Is Finally Being Cautious, But Has He Really Changed?Relaxing Lockdown As Planned Could Trigger Worst Hospital Peak Yet, Sage Warns
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(University of Connecticut) For college students of color who encounter online racism, the effect of racialized aggressions and assaults reaches far beyond any single social media feed and can lead to real and significant mental health impacts - even more significant than in-person experiences of racial discrimination, according to a recently published study from researchers at UConn and Boston College.
LunchBait Activists are a diverse community of passionate advocates, writers, and travelers who share their experiences about racism and discrimination facts.
The firm fired Margaret Mitchell, the founder and former co-lead on its ethical AI team, following an extended investigation that has kept Mitchell locked out of her corporate account since January.
Uber lost a key court battle.
Exclusive: Microsoft slammed Facebook's Australian news ban.
MailChimp responded to allegations of gender bias.
CEO Ben Chestnut responded on Friday to allegations of gender discrimination and harassment at the company, telling employees in an email that "we have work to do" on pay equity and inclusion.
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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Google has fired Margaret Mitchell, co-lead of the ethical AI team, after she used an automated script to look through her emails in order to find evidence of discrimination against her coworker Timnit Gebru. The news was first reported by Axios.
Mitchell’s firing comes one day after Google announced a reorganization to its AI teams working on ethics and fairness. Marian Croak, a vice president in the engineering organization, is now leading “a new center of expertise on responsible AI within Google Research,” according to a blog post.
“These decisions were made behind our backs”
Mitchell joined Google in 2016 as a senior research scientist, according to her LinkedIn. Two years later, she helped start the ethical AI team alongside...
The top finance stories for February 19, including the latest news on new allegations of harassment and discrimination against Pimco.
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Kelly Ellis, who has frequently spoken publicly about gender and racial discrimination, said she quit after a discussion on pay "went south."
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A charity supporting self-employed women has lost a legal challenge arguing the government’s Covid financial support scheme has had a “disproportionately prejudicial effect” on working mothers.The group said it was considering its options for appeal, claiming there had been “serious legal errors” following the judgment at the High Court on Wednesday. Mrs Justice Whipple said she did not deem the matter to be indirectly discriminatory and that it imposed no hidden barriers to eligibility.AN UPDATE ON OUR LEGAL CHALLENGEWe are incredibly disappointed to have lost our legal challenge against the Government for discrimination due to the way the SEISS has been calculated. You can now read the judgment here. 1/#SEISS#ExcludedUK— PregnantThenScrewed (@PregnantScrewed) February 17, 2021In her judgment, she said: “The same rule applies to all and it is no harder for a woman who has been on maternity leave to qualify or calculate their payment than someone who has not. The fact that some claimants will receive lower payments than others reflects the fact of lower earnings in past years.”The charity said the judgment was “fundamentally flawed”Joeli Brearley, CEO and founder of the charity said the ruling contained “serious legal errors” and an appeal was being considered.“We are, of course, deeply concerned for the vulnerable new mothers who have had a much reduced payment compared to their male and childless counterparts, and are now really struggling over the winter period,” Brearley said. “How a judge could consider this not to be discrimination has really shocked all of us.” Pregnant Then Screwed brought legal action against the Treasury over its Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (Seiss) – introduced last year to help self-employed workers affected by the pandemic – arguing that it is discriminatory and breaches equality laws.The judge added: “The Chancellor was not in breach of the public sector equality duty because he did have due regard to the plight of women who had recently been on maternity leave.” The charity says that, due to the way Seiss grants are calculated, tens of thousands of women have received lower payments than those whose average income was unaffected by maternity-related leave.Seiss payments are assessed based on average monthly profits over the previous three tax years – effectively between 2016 and 2019 – and worth up to £2,500 a month.At a remote hearing in January, lawyers for the charity argued that the policy is indirectly discriminatory because women who earned less simply because they were on maternity leave would now be seen as having lower average incomes. Instead, they said, periods of maternity leave should have been exempted from the calculation.Related...Pregnant Then Screwed - Our Response To MP's Recommendations For Ending Pregnancy And Maternity Discrimination‘She Never Held Her Baby’: Why We Need To Protect Working Pregnant WomenThis Is How It Feels To Be Discriminated Against At Work When You Are Pregnant'I Tested Positive During Labour' – 9 Pandemic Birth Stories
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A PhD student has accused the University of Cambridge of failing to properly address an alleged incident of racism at Trinity College.Gregory Serapio-García, 23, says he was “racially antagonised” by a porter while volunteering as a Covid-19 mutual aid supporter for students in September.The college has denied any discrimination, but Serapio-García says the fact the investigation was conducted by an all-white team is a real problem and that such experiences are common for minority ethnic students.“Everyday, ‘unprovable’ discrimination continues to be an unfortunate but not unsurprising reality for so many students of colour in Cambridge and beyond,” he told HuffPost UK.The Filipino-American student was delivering care packages to his self-isolating peers across Cambridge’s colleges when he was allegedly stopped by a white male porter who was “hostile” towards him and insisted he “couldn’t understand a word” of what he was saying when he tried to explain himself in English – his first language.“I was understandably hurt and confused as to why I was being treated so poorly. It wasn’t the first time I had been treated brusquely by a Trinity porter, but I couldn’t help but feel particularly antagonised,” Serapio-García said.“I felt looked down upon. Above all, as a Brown person at a predominantly white college, I felt like I didn’t belong.”This experience was compounded by the university’s “undignified” complaints process, as described by the student, in which Trinity failed to pre-emptively apologise and commissioned an investigation that took nearly five weeks. On top of that, through a Freedom of Information request, Serapio-García discovered college management had said in internal emails that he needed to “understand that customer service/how people interact in the UK is different from the US; that, unless you are a fellow, porters can be and often are rude to anyone and that sensitivities/tension is heightened in Cambridge with the start of the academic year in the Covid era”.“What else could explain this comment, if not deep-seated xenophobia?” Serapio-García continued. “To boil down my experience of perceived racial antagonism to a primitive misunderstanding of customer service culture in the UK is deeply hurtful and offensive to me.“It’s also implying that I should expect, as a Brown person, to be treated this way by UK customer service?”Trinity said its investigation found no evidence of racism or any other discrimination, but admits there are lessons to be learnt around how people are treated.Serapio-García says when he arrived in the foyer, the porter approached him – not wearing a face covering – and asked: “What do you want?”The student explained his business and asked if it was possible to leave packages in pigeonholes for the students as per standard procedure.“The porter proceeded to squint his eyes and shake his head clearly in disgust, and said something along the lines of: ‘What do you mean? I don’t understand a word you’re saying,’” Serapio-García explained.“His hostile facial expression and hands on his hips made me feel I was somehow a foreign tourist who couldn’t speak English. In actuality, though, American English is my first and pretty much only language.“I attempted to repeat my explanation, remaining calm, but the porter interrupted me in a raised voice: ‘Trinity College do not have pigeonholes. Who exactly are you? Who authorised this?’“I felt so denigrated, publicly embarrassed, and upset.”Trinity does have pigeonholes.Serapio-García also says another student volunteer – a white woman – then arrived and was treated with more respect by the porter.The college declined to give a reason as to why the investigation had taken so long, or the reason behind its failure to do as the student had asked: publicly apologise and change its implicit bias training.A spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “An independent investigation did not find any evidence of racism, or any other form of discrimination.“It did, however, identify aspects of how we engage with visitors that could be improved within the college. The college is committed to taking on board these findings and is taking steps to improve the visitor experience. “Trinity College is committed to protecting the dignity of students, fellows and staff as members of its community in their work, their study, and their interactions with each other, and to protecting the dignity of all those who visit or interact with the college.”Serapio-García, who moved to Cambridge from the US to start his degree in September 2019, added: “In my experiences of overcoming obstacles to racial equity and equality – particularly as a queer, disabled Brown person in academia – I emphatically believe the impact on victims of racial trauma when evaluating institutional responses to racism must be unquestionably prioritised over white intent.”Serapio-García says Trinity’s junior bursar told him the institution was seeking “bulletproof facts”. The investigation was conducted with the assistance of barristers appointed by the university and the college has refused to give Serapio-García copies of its findings.Every Trinity administrator put in charge of handling the student’s complaint was white, which he described as “perplexing”.“White people throughout this process have attempted to determine for me what is and is not racist,” Serapio-García said. “And so when I read their investigation outcome letter all I could think of was that white people, including the barrister team that was hired, were tasked with trying to tell me, a Brown person who lives with racism every day, what is and is not racist.”The Trinity spokesperson added: “The college fully accepted the findings of the independent investigation, and offered its sincere apologies to the complainant that they did not receive the standard of service that Trinity expects and for the length of time this process took. “As a result of the investigation findings and lessons learnt from the process, the college is taking immediate steps to improve its visitor experience and is reviewing its procedures with regard to complaints. We stand by the importance of an independent approach and recognise the need to ensure the timely conclusion of such processes.”By going public about his experience, Serapio-García hopes other students subjected to discriminatory encounters will know “they are not alone”.“Every fellow Brown and Black student I’ve spoken with has relayed this same discrepant experience,” he said, citing his friend Collin Edouard, who was physically assaulted by a Porter at St Catherine’s last year and had regular supervisions at Trinity.“Every time, he would be stopped and questioned whether or not he was a Cambridge student while his white classmates entered without pause,” he continued. “Students like Collin and I simply grew used to these negative experiences.”He added: “And when these experiences of racism are denied, taking literally hundreds of days to investigate but zero to address the immediate pain, suffering students are indeed racially gaslit and a deeply-rooted culture of inequality in higher education is emboldened to continue and thrive.“Higher education institutions like Trinity are charged with uplifting the marginalised of society, not silencing them. They must change. I want to also send a message to Oxbridge colleges that the fragmentation and obscurity processes to report harassment at individual colleges, be it racial, sexual, physical, is profoundly harmful and problematic.”The university is improving its record when it comes to admitting underrepresented students. In October it announced record numbers of Black students were admitted and for the first time, 70% of its UK undergraduate intake came from state schools. Responding to this, Serapio-García said: “This is good. But what happens to these students after they are admitted? When they first arrive in Cambridge, and experience racism, will they be able to endure 130 days of diversion and delay?“The lack of process for reporting, as it stands in my case, actively discourages minority students from speaking up. With enough attention and open conversation about the lived experiences and realities of BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of colour) at Cambridge and elsewhere, I do have hope that things can change.”Related...Students' Union's First Black President Reveals 'Devastating' Experiences Of Everyday RacismUniversities Told To Teach White Privilege And 'Allyship' In Anti-Racist TrainingAll These Organisations Made Black Lives Matter Pledges. But Have They Kept Them?