During a panel discussion at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, Rep. Barbara Lee emphasized the critical need for diversity and inclusion in the development of artificial intelligence (AI). The discussion, titled “Friend or Foe: How AI Impacts The Black Community,” shed light on the lack of diversity in AI teams leading to biases and discriminatory outcomes.

Lee stressed that AI’s impact on minority communities, especially the Black community, is often not considered until problems arise. She described AI inclusion as another front in the civil rights spectrum and highlighted the urgency to level the playing field before it’s too late.

Myaisha Hayes, Campaign Strategies Director at MediaJustice, emphasized the lack of transparency in AI technology. She noted that tech companies often use complexity as an excuse to avoid accountability for the impact of AI on the Black community.

The discussion also addressed the importance of investing in Black tech companies and expanding Black communities’ presence in the tech space. The prevalent theme was the imperative to ensure that AI is developed with diverse voices and remains transparent to avoid reinforcing biases and systemic discrimination.

AI systems heavily rely on historical data to learn patterns and make predictions, but this data often carries biases and systemic racism. If AI algorithms are trained on biased data, they can perpetuate and amplify these biases, leading to unfair treatment and discrimination against Black individuals in various domains.

Addressing biases and ensuring equitable outcomes are crucial steps toward building a future where technology dismantles, rather than reinforces, systemic discrimination. The history of AI underscores the urgent need for critical examination, transparency, and ethical considerations within AI development and deployment. Grassroots efforts and local resources are seen as key in educating communities about AI and advocating for inclusivity in its development.

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