Joy Adowaa Buolamwini: Fighting Bias in Algorithms

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  • Joy was awarded the Grand Prize of a national contest for her impact journey video essay.
Joy Adowaa Buolamwini: Fighting Bias in Algorithms
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here needs to be a choice, right now, whats happening is these technologies are being deployed widely without oversight, oftentimes covertly, so that by the time we wake up, its almost too late. Joy Adowaa Buolamwini

Joy Adowaa Buolamwini, a Ghanaian-American computer scientist and digital activist. She is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, an organization, which fights the coded gaze – harmful bias in artificial intelligence. 

Joy is a Rhodes Scholar, Google Anita Borg Scholar and Fulbright Fellow very well recognized as a Tech Review 35 under 35 honoree. Also, she holds two master’s degrees one from Oxford University and one from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science she obtained from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Now pursuing her PhD from MIT.

In order to develop an Android-based assessment system for Ethiopia and aide eradication of the disease worldwide, Joy teamed with the Trachoma program at Carter Center. In 2013, as a Fulbright fellow, she worked with local computer scientists in Zambia just to empower Zambian youth to become technology creators. 

Joy Buolamwini uses art and research to illumine the social implications of artificial intelligence. She founded the Algorithmic Justice League to challenge bias in decision making software. She is a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, where she developed techniques, she showed facial recognition systems around 1,000 faces and asked them to identify whether they were male or female, and she found out that the software found it hard to identify dark-skinned women. Her project, Gender Shades, attracted remarkable media attention and become part of her MIT thesis. The technique now is leading to increased transparency in the use of facial analysis technology globally. Also, she has successfully established the inaugural IEEE working group to create the first international standards for facial analysis technology. Moreover, Buolamwini is a member of Ethan Zuckerman’s Center for Civic Media group. 

She also created the Aspire Mirror, a device with which you can see your reflection based on what inspires you. She has also created two films, The Coded Gaze: Unmasking Algorithmic Bias, which was debuted at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and her pilot of the Journey To Code training series was debuted at the Vatican.

She is a renowned speaker, her TED Talk on algorithmic bias has over 1 million views. Plus, her research on Gender Shades have been covered in more than 37 countries. She was also invited to write an op-ed for the New York Times on the ‘dangers of facial analysis technology.’

She also serves on the Global Tech Panel congregated by the vice president of European Commission to advise world leaders and technology executives on ways to reduce the harms of A.I. In the year 2018, Joy partnered with the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology and launched the Safe Face Pledge, the first-of-its-kind agreement that preclude the fatal application of facial analysis and recognition technology.

See Also

In 2017, Joy was awarded the Grand Prize of a national contest for her impact journey video essay. With the help of Ford Foundation she created “AI, Ain’t I A Woman?” the first-of-its-kind spoken word visual poem, which focuses on failures of AI on iconic women including Serena Williams, Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama.

At Beacon Street, Joy delivered a TEDx talk titled How I’m fighting bias in algorithms. In 2018 she appeared on TED Radio Hour. She was also featured on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls the same year. 

Fast Company magazine has listed her as one of four “design heroes who are defending democracy online”.

Joy was listed as one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2018. And was featured among “America’s Top 50 Women In Tech” by Forbes in the same year.

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