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December 9, 2021 37 mins

Baratunde knows what is healthy to eat or not, thanks to the required nutrition labels on our food. But how do we know the ingredients in the algorithms and AI we depend on are safe to use? Baratunde speaks with Kasia Chmielinksi about the Data Nutrition Project, which helps data scientists, developers, and product managers assess the viability, health, and quality of the data that feeds their algorithms and influences our decisions daily. 


Guest: Kasia Chmielinski

Bio: Co-Founder of the Data Nutrition Project, an affiliate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, senior research advisor at the Partnership on AI

Online: The Data Nutrition Project website; Kasia on Twitter @kaschm



Show Notes + Links

Go to howtocitizen.com to sign up for show news, AND (coming soon!) to start your How to Citizen Practice.

Please show your support for the show in the form of a review and rating. It makes a huge difference with the algorithmic overlords!

We are grateful to Kasia Chmielinski for joining us! Follow them at @kaschm on Twitter, or find more of their work at datanutrition.org.


ACTIONS


- PERSONALLY REFLECT 

Like people, machines are shaped by the context in which they were created. So if we think of machines and algorithmic systems as children who are learning from us - their parents - what kind of parents do we want to be? How do we want to raise our machines to be considerate, fair, and to build a better world than the one we are in today?

 

- BECOME INFORMED

Watch: Coded Bias

Listen: Radical AI Podcast

Read: Race after Technology, Weapons of Math Destruction, Data Feminism

Make Choices: *privacy not included (consumer guide for buying technologies)

 

- PUBLICLY PARTICIPATE

Donate to these groups on the front lines ensuring the future of AI is human and just: Algorithmic Justice League, ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Discuss: Host a book club! The books above are really great platforms to gather folks who want to learn from the literature and each other.

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Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Yeah. Welcome to How to Citizen with Baritune Day, a
podcast that reimagined citizen as a verb, not a legal status.
This season is all about tech and how it can
bring us together instead of tearing us apart. We're bringing
you the people using technology for so much more than
revenue and user growth. They're using it to help us citizen.

(00:34):
I have been working over the past year to try
to integrate my own thinking around technology, and last year
I wrote a bit of a manifesto. Back in I
was invited to speak at Google IOH, an annual developer
conference held by Google. They wanted me to share my
thoughts on what the future of technology could look like.

(00:56):
I went on a journey to try to understand how
all my data existed amongst the major platforms, amongst app developers,
and what came out of that was a set of
principles to help guide us more conscientiously into the future. Now.
The first principle of my manifesto is all about transparency.
Like I wanted to understand what was going on inside

(01:20):
the apps, behind the websites I was spending all my
time on. When I want to know what's in my food,
I don't drag a chemistry set to the grocery store
and inspect every item point by point. I read the
nutrition label. I know the content, the calories, the ratings.
I shouldn't have to guess about what's inside the product.

(01:41):
I certainly shouldn't have to read thirty three thousand word
legally's terms of service to figure out what's really happening inside.
It's pretty simple. We make better decisions about the things
we consume when we know what's in them. So if
I'm checking out an app on the app store right
and I see upfront that it's going to harvest my
data and slang it on some digital street corner, can

(02:05):
I interest you in so data? I can ask myself, Hey, self,
are you okay with this app harvesting your data and
slanging it on a digital street corner? And then, having
asked myself that question, I can decide whether or not
to download it. I don't have to hope that it
won't screw me over. I can know, but check it out.

(02:28):
This nutrition label idea hasn't just existed in the vacuum
of my own brain. It's a real thing. There are
actual people making nutrition labels in the world of tech.
In the same way that I walk into a bakery
and I see a cake that's been baked, and I
might think to myself, I wonder what's in that cake.

(02:49):
We would want the same thing for a data set,
where even if you encounter that data set in the wild, you,
as a data practitioner, will think to yourself, I wonder
if this is representative. Cash of Malinsky is one of
those people. These labels are a little different from what
I propose that Google, I yoe. Their data nutrition labels
aren't for consumers like me and you at the end

(03:11):
of the assembly line. Instead, therefore, the people at the
very beginning the data scientists. Now, Kasha's data nutrition labels
are an easy to use tool to help data scientists
pick the data that's right for the thing they're making.
We interact with algorithms every day, even when we're not
aware of it. They affect the decisions we make about hiring,

(03:34):
about policing, pretty much everything. And in the same way
that we the people ensure our well being through government
standards and regulations on business activities. For example, data scientists
needs standards to Kasha is fighting for standards that will
make sure that artificial intelligence works for our collective benefit

(03:57):
or at least doesn't undermine m Hi. Hello, how are
you feeling right now? Kasha? I'm feeling pretty good the
beginning of another way. Kasha is the co founder and
lead of the Data Nutrition Project, the team behind those labels.
They've also worked as a digital services technologist in the

(04:17):
White House, on COVID analytics at Mackenzie and in communications
at Google. Yeah. Yeah, so I've kind of I've jumped around. Yeah,
so why don't you introduce yourself and just tell me
what you do. My name is Kasha Shamalinski, and I
am a technologist working on the ethics of data. And

(04:40):
I'd say, you know importantly to me, although I have
always been a nerd and I studied physics along time ago.
I come from a family of artists. Actually, the painting
behind me is by my brother. There's another one in
the room by my mom um. And so I come
from a really kind of multidisciplinary group of people who
are driven by our passions. And that's kind of what

(05:01):
I've tried to do too, and it's just led me
on many different paths. Where does the interest in technology
come from? For you? You know, I don't think that
it's really an interest in technology. It's just that we're
in a technological time. And so when I graduated from
university with this physics degree, I had a few options,
and none of them really seemed great. Uh. You know,

(05:24):
I could go into defense work, I could become a spy,
or I could make weapons, and that really wasn't so
interesting to me. Was being was Was spy really an option? Uh? Yes,
so you know I could do that, um, but I
didn't end and none of these are really interesting because
I wanted to make an impact and I wanted to

(05:45):
drive change, and I think that was around you know, um,
early thousands, and technology was the place to be. That's
where you could really have the most impact and solve
really big problems. Um. And so that's where I ended up.
So I actually don't think that it's really about the
technology at all. I think that the technology is just
a tool that you can use to to kind of
make an impact in the world. I love the way

(06:06):
you describe the interest in technology is really just an
interest in the world. So do you remember some of
the first steps that led you to what you are
doing now? So when I graduated, I actually applied to
many things and didn't get them. And what I realized
that I really didn't know how to do it at all.
Always tell a story. Um, and coming out of a

(06:28):
fairly technical path, I couldn't really make eye contact. I
hadn't talked to a variety of people. I mean, I
was definitely one of the only people who had my
identity in in that discipline at that time. I went
to a school where the the head of the school
at the time was saying that women might not be
able to do science because biologically they were inferior in

(06:49):
some way. Oh that's nice, very welcoming environment. Oh yeah,
super welcoming. And I was studying physics and at the time,
I you know, it was female identified. I now identify
as non binary. Um. But it wasn't like a great
place to be doing science, and I just felt like
coming out of that, I was, UM. I didn't know
how to talk to people. I didn't know what it
was like to be part of a great community. And
so I actually went into communications at Google, which was

(07:11):
strange duringdustory industry. I went from this super nerdy, very
male dominated place to like a kind of like the
party wing of of technology at the time. Right, So
people who are doing a lot of marketing and communications
and talking to journalists and telling stories and trying to
figure out like what's interesting it has this fit into
the greater narratives of our time. So while at Google,

(07:39):
I got to see inside of so many different projects
that I think was a great benefit to being part
of that strategy team. So I got to work on
core Search, I got to work on image search, I
got to work on Gmail and Calendar, and I started
to see the importance of first of all, knowing why

(08:00):
you're building something before you start to build it, right,
And there were so many times that I saw really
really cool product at the end of the day, something
an algorithm or something technical that was just really cool,
but there was no reason that it needed to exist.
Right from from a person perspective, from a society perspective,

(08:26):
I am relieved to hear you say that. There's been
one of my critiques of this industry for quite some time.
It's like, whose problems are you trying to solve? And
so you were at the epicenter of one of the
major companies seeing some of this firsthand. Yeah, that's exactly right,
And it was endemic. I mean It just happens all
the time, and it's not the fault of anyone in particular.

(08:46):
You just put a bunch of really smart engineers on
a technical problem and they just find amazing ways to
solve that. But then at the end of the day
you say, well, how are we actually going to use this?
And that would fall to the comms team, right or
the marketing team to say, okay, now what are we
going to do with this? Um So that was one
thing and that's why I actually ended up moving into
product management, where I could think about why we want

(09:07):
to build something to begin with, and to make sure
we're building the right thing. Um So I got closer
to the technology after that job. The second thing that
I became aware of is the importance of considering the
whole pipeline of the thing that you build, because the
thing that you build, it's d n A, is in
the initial data that you put into it. And I'm

(09:28):
talking specifically about algorithmic systems here. So one example I
have from my days when I was at Google. I
actually I worked out of the London office and there
was a new search capability and it was trained entirely
on one particular accent and then when other people tried
to use that, if they didn't have that very specific accent,

(09:49):
it wasn't working so well. And I really didn't know
much about AI at the time. I hadn't studied it,
but I realized, you know, bias in bias out like
garbage in garbage out. You you feed this machine something,
the machine is going to look exactly like what you
fed it. Right, you are what you eat. We'll be

(10:10):
right back. We use these terms data, we use this
terms algorithm and artificial intelligence. And so before we keep going,
I'd love for you to pause and kind of explain

(10:32):
what these things are in their relationship to each other. Data, algorithms,
artificial intelligence. How how does Kasha define these? Yeah, thank
you for taking a moment. I think that that's um.
Something that's so important in technology is that people feel
like they aren't allowed to have an opinion or have

(10:53):
thoughts about it because they don't quote unquote don't understand it.
But you're right, it's just it's just a definition all issue. Often. So,
data is anything that is programmatically accessible that is probably
in enough volume to be used for something by a system.
So it could be records of something, it could be

(11:16):
whether information. It could be the notes taken by a
doctor that then get turned into something that's programmatically accessible.
There's a lot of stuff and you can feed that
to a machine. I'm really interested in algorithms because it's
kind of the practical way of understanding something like AI.
It's it's a mathematical formula and it it takes some

(11:36):
stuff and then it outputs something. So that could be
something like you input where you live and your name,
and then the algorithm will churn and spit out something
like you know what race or ethnicity it thinks you are.
And that algorithm, in order to to make whatever guesses
it's making, needs to be fed a bunch of data

(11:57):
so that it can start to recognize patterns. When you
deploy that algorithm out in in the world, you feed
it some data and it will spit out what it
believes is the pattern that it recognizes based on what
it knows. You know, there's different flavors of AI. I
think a lot of people are very afraid of kind

(12:19):
of the terminator type AI. I'll be back as as
we should be, because the terminator is very scary. I've
seen the documentary many times and I don't want to
live in that world. Yeah, legitimately very scary. UM. And
so there's this there's this question of Okay, is the
AI going to come to eat our lunch? Right? Are

(12:40):
they smarter than us? And all the things that we
can do, and that's like you know, generalized AI or
or even kind of super AI. We're not quite there yet. Currently,
we're in the phase where we have discrete AI that
makes discreet decisions and we leverage those to help us
in our daily lives or to hurt us. Sometimes data
as food for algorithms. I think it's a really useful metaphor.

(13:03):
And a lot of us out in the wild who
aren't specialized in this, I think we're not encouraged to
understand that relationship. I agree, And I think the the
relationship between what you feed the algorithm and what it
gives you is so direct, and people don't necessarily know
that or see that. And what you see is the

(13:23):
harm or the output that comes out of the system,
and what you don't see is all the work that
went into building that system. You have someone who decided
in the beginning they wanted to use AI, and then
you have somebody who went and found the data, and
you have somebody else who cleaned the data, and you've
got somebody or somebody's who then built the algorithm and
train the algorithm, and then you have the somebodies who

(13:44):
coded that up, and then you have the somebody's that's
deployed that, and then you have people who are running that.
And so when the algorithm comes out the end and
there's a decision that's made you get the loan, you
didn't get the loan. The algorithm recognizes your speech, doesn't
recognize your speech see ease, you doesn't see you. People think, oh,
just change the algorithm. Oh no, you have to go

(14:05):
all the way back to the beginning because you have
that long chain of people who are doing so many
different things, and it becomes very complicated to try to
fix that. So the more that we can understand that
the process begins with the question do I need AI

(14:25):
for this? And then very quickly after where are we
going to get the data to feed that? So that
we make the right decision. The sooner we understand that
as a society, I think the easier it's going to
be for us to build better AI because we're not
just catching the issues at the very end of what
can be a year's long process. Mm hm. So so
what problems does the Data Nutrition Project aimed to tackle?

(14:48):
We've kind of talked about them all in pieces. At
its core, the Data Nutrition Project, which is this research
organization that I co found a bunch of very smart people.
We were all part of a fellowship that was looking
at the ethics and governance of AI. And so when
we sat down to say what are the real things
that we can do to drive change um as practitioners,

(15:08):
as people in the space, as people who had built
AI before, we decided let's just go really small. And
obviously it's actually a huge problem and it's it's very challenging.
But instead of saying, let's look at the harms that
come out of an AI system, let's just think about
what goes in. And I think we're maybe eating a
lot of snacks. We were hold up at the M
I T Media Lab, right, So we were just all

(15:30):
in this room for many many hours, many many days,
and I think somebody at some point picked up, you know,
a snack package, and we're like, what if you just
had a nutritional label like the one you have on food,
you just put that on a data set. What would
that do? I mean, is it possible? Right? But if
if it is possible, would that actually change things? And

(15:51):
we started talking it over and we thought, you know,
we think it would. In our experience in data science
as practitioners, we know that data doesn't hum with standardized documentation,
and often you get a data set and you don't
know how you're supposed to use it or not use it.
There may or may not be tools that you use

(16:11):
to look at things that will tell you whether that
data set is healthy for the thing that you want
to do with it. The standard process would be a
product manager CEO would come over to the desk of
data scientists and say, look, we have all this information
about this new product we want to sell. We need
to map the marketing information to the demographics of people

(16:35):
who are likely to want to buy our product or
click on our product. Don't make it happen. And the
data scientist goes okay, and the person goes, oh yeah,
by tuesday, and the persons like, oh okay, let me
go find the right data for that. There's a whole world.
You just google a bunch of stuff and then you
get the data, and then you kind of poke around
and you think, as seems pretty good, and then you

(16:57):
use it and you build your algorithm on that. Your
algorithm is going to determine which demographics or what geographies
or whatever it is you're trying to do. You train
it on that data you found, and then you deploy
that algorithm and it starts to work in production. And
you know, no fault of anybody, really, but the industry
has grown up so much faster than the structures and

(17:19):
the scaffolding to keep that industry doing the right thing.
So there might be documentation on some of the data,
there might not be in some cases. We're working with
a data partner that was very concerned how people were
going to use their data. The data set documentation was
an eighty page PDF. Zero that data scientist who's on
deadline for Tuesday is not going to read eighty pages.

(17:40):
So our thought was, hey, can we distill the most
important components of a data set and its usage to
something that is maybe one sheet two sheets right, using
the analogy of the nutrition label, put it on a
data set, and then make that the standard so that
anybody who is picking up a data set to decide
whether or not to use. It will very quickly be

(18:01):
able to assess is this healthy for the thing I
want to do. It's a novel application of a thing
that so many of us understand. What are some of
the harms you've seen some of the harms you're trying
to avoid by the data scientists who are building these
services not having access to healthy data. Yeah. Let's say
you have a data set that health outcomes and you're

(18:24):
looking at people who have had heart attacks or something
like that, and you realize that the data was only
taken from men in their sixties. If you are now
going to use this as a data set to train
an algorithm to provide early warning signs for who might
have a heart attack, you're gonna miss entire demographics of people,

(18:46):
which may or may not matter. That's a question. Does
that matter? I don't know, But perhaps it matters what
the average size of a body is, or the average
age of a body is, or maybe there's something that
is gender or sex related, and you will miss so
all of that. If you just take the data at
face value, you don't think about who's not represented here.
I remember examples that I used to cite in some talks.

(19:09):
It was the Amazon hiring decisions. Amazon software engineers recently
uncovered a big problem. Their new online recruiting tool did
not like women. It had an automated screening system for resumes,
and that system ignored all the women because the data
set showed that successful job candidates at Amazon were men.

(19:33):
And so the computer like garbage in, garbage out. The
way we've discussed said, well, you've defined success as mail.
You've fed me a bunch of female that's not success.
Therefore my formula dictates they get rejected, and that affects
people's job prospects. You know, that affects people sense of
their self worth and self esteem. That could open up

(19:54):
the company to liability, all kinds of harms in a
system that was supposed to reread efficiency and and help. Yeah,
that's a great example, and it's, you know, a very
true one. And I think that one was pretty high profile.
Imagine all the situations that either have never been caught
or we're kind of too low profile to make it

(20:15):
into the news. It happens all the time because the
algorithm is a kind of a reflection of whatever you've
fed it. So in that case, you had historical bias,
and so the historical bias in the resumes that they
were using to feed the algorithm showed that men were
hired more frequently and that was success. It also comes
down to, in terms of the metrics, how you're defining things.

(20:37):
If your definition of success is that someone was hired,
you're not necessarily saying that your definition is that person
was a good ended up being a good worker. Or
even if you're looking at the person's performance reviews and
saying success would be that we hire somebody who performs well.
But historically you hired more men than women. So even then,
if your success metric is someone who performed well, you're

(21:00):
already taking into account the historical bias that there are
more men than women who are hired. So there are
all different kinds of biases that are being captured in
the data. Something that the Data Nutrition Project is trying
to do with the label that we've built is highlight
these kinds of historical issues as well as the technical

(21:20):
issues in the data, and that I think is an
important balance to strike. It's not just about what you
can see in the data. It's also about what you
cannot see in the data. So in the case that
you just called out there with the resumes, you would
be able to see that's not representative with respect to gender,
and maybe you'd be able to see things like these

(21:41):
are all English language resumes, But what you would not
be able to see are things like socio economic differences
or people who never applied, or you know, what the
job market looked like whenever these resumes were collected, So
you'll kind of not be able to see any of
that if you just take a purely technical approach to
what's in the data up. So the data set nutrition

(22:02):
label tries to highlight those things as well to data
practitioners to say, before you use this data set, here
are some things you should consider, and sometimes will even
go as far as to say you probably shouldn't use
this data set for this particular thing because we just
know that it's not good for that, and that's always
an option, is to say don't use it. Right. It

(22:23):
doesn't mean people won't do it, but at least we
can give you a warning, and we kind of hope
that people have the best of intentions and are trying
to do the right thing. So it's about explaining what
is in the data set or in the data so
that you can decide as a practitioner whether or not
it is healthy for your usage. After the break, it's
snack time. I'm back hungry. So I'm holding a package

(23:00):
your food right now, and I'm looking at the nutrition
label nutrition facts. It's got servings per container, the size
of a serving, and then numbers and percentages in terms
of the daily percent of total fact cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein,
and a set of vitamins that I can expect in

(23:21):
a single serving of this product. And then I can
make an informed choice about whether and how much of
that food stuff I want to put in my body,
how much garbage I want to let in. In this case,
it's pretty healthy stuff. It's uh dried mangoes. If you're curious,
what's on your data nutrition label? Yeah, a great question.

(23:43):
And now I'm like kind of hungry. I'm like, oh,
it's a snack time. I feel like it's snack time. Um.
This is the hardest part to me about this project
is what the right level of metadata is. So what
are the right elements that you want to call out
for our nutritional label? You know, what are the facts
and the sodiums and these kinds of things, Because you know,

(24:04):
that The complication here is that there are so many
different kinds of data sets. I can have a data
set about trees in Central Park, and I can have
a data set about people in prison. So we've kind
of identified that the harms that were most worried about
have to do with people. Um not to say that
we are, you know, not worried about things like the

(24:25):
environment or other things, but when it touches people or
communities is when we see the greatest harms from an
algorithmic standpoint in society. And so we kind of have
a badge system that should be very quick, kind of
icon based that says this data sets about people are
not This data set includes subpopulation data, so you know,

(24:46):
includes information about race or gender or whatever status. Right,
this data set can be used for commercial purposes or not.
We've identified, let's say, tend to fifteen things that we
think are kind of high level almost like little food
warning symbols that you would see on something like organic
or it's got a surgeon General's warning right exactly. So

(25:09):
at a very high level we have these kind of icons.
And then underneath that there are additional very important questions
that we've highlighted that people will answer who own the
data set? And then finally there's a section that says,
here's the reason it was made. The data set was made,
it's probably an intended use. Here are some other use
cases that are possible or ways that other people have

(25:29):
used it, and then here are some things that you
just shouldn't do. So how do we make this approach
more mainstream? Mainstream is a tough word because we're talking
about people who build AI, and I think that is
becoming more mainstream for sure. Um, but we're really focused
on data practitioners, so people who are taking data and
then building things on that data. But there's kind of

(25:52):
a bottoms up approach. It's very anti establishment in some ways,
in very hagriculture. And so we've been working with a
lot of data petitioners to say what works, what doesn't,
is as useful as it not. Make it open source right,
open licenses, use it if you want, and just hoping
that if we make a good thing, people will use it.
A rising tide lifts all boats, we think, so you know,

(26:12):
we're not cag about it because we just want better data.
We have better data out there, and if people have
the expectation that they're going to see something like this,
that's awesome. There's also the top down approach, which is
regulation policy, And I could imagine a world in which
in the future, if you deploy an algorithm, especially in
the public sector, you would have to include some kind

(26:33):
of labeling on that right to talk about the data
that it was trained on and provide a label for that.
So it's kind of a two way approach, you know. Yeah, no,
I mean when I think of analogus, like most of
us don't know civil engineers personally, but we interact with
their work on a regular basis through a system of trust,
through standards, through approvals, through certifications, and data scientists are

(26:55):
on par with like a civil engineer in my mind,
and that the erect structures that we inhabit a regular basis.
But I have no idea what rules they're operating by.
I don't know what's in this algorithm, you know, I
don't know how what ingredients you used to put this
together that's determining whether I get a job or vaccination.
What's your biggest dream for the Data nutrition project? Where

(27:16):
does it go? So I could easily say, you know,
our dream would be that every data set comes with
a label. Cool, But more than that, I think we're
trying to drive awareness and change. So even if there
isn't a label, you're thinking about, I wonder what's in
this and I wish it had a label on it.
In the same way that I walk into a bakery

(27:38):
and I see a cake that's been baked, and I
might think to myself, I wonder what's in that cake,
and I wonder, you know, if it has this much
of something, or maybe I should consider this when I
decide whether to have four or five pieces of cake.
We would want the same thing for a data set
where even if you encounter that data set in the wild,

(28:00):
someone's created it. You just downloaded it from some repository
on gith hub. There's no documentation that you, as a
data practitioner, will think to yourself, I wonder if this
is representative. I wonder if the thing I'm trying to
do with this data is responsible, considering the data, where
it came from, who touched it, who funded it, where

(28:20):
it lives, how often it's updated, whether they got consent
from people when they took their data, And so we're
trying to drive a culture change. I love that and
I love the idea that when I go to a bakery,
one of the questions I'm not asking myself is is
that muffin safe to eat? Right? Is that Kate gonna

(28:43):
kill me? It literally doesn't enter my mind because there's
such a level of earned trust in the system overall
that you know, these people are getting inspected, that there's
some kind of oversight that they were trained in a
reasonable way, so I know there's not arsenic in the muffins.
So this brings me to zooming out a little bit

(29:04):
further to artificial intelligence and the idea of standards, because
I'm getting this picture from you that there's kind of
a wild West in terms of what we're feeding into
the systems that ultimately become some form of AI. What
does the world look like when we have more standards
in the tools and components that create AI. I think

(29:24):
that our understanding of what AI is and what kinds
of AI there are is going to mature. I imagine
that there is a system of classification where some AI
is very high risk and some AI is less high risk,
and we start to have a stratified view of what
needs to occur in each level in order to reach

(29:47):
an understanding that there's no arsenic in the muffins. So
at the highest level, when it's super super risky, maybe
we just don't use AI. This seems to be something
that people forget, is that we can decide whether or
not to use it. Like, would you want an AI
performing surgery on you with no human around? If it's
really really good? Do you want that? Do you want

(30:09):
to assume that risk? I mean that is dealing with
your literal organs, your heart. So I think that you know,
ideally what happens is you've got a good combination of
regulation and oversight, which I do believe in, but then
also training and you know, good human intention to do
the right thing. So when I think about these algorithms,

(30:33):
I think of them as kind of automated decision makers,
and I think they can pose a challenge to our
ideas of free will and self determination because we are
increasingly living in this world where we think we're making choices,
but we're actually operating within a narrow set of recommendations.
What do you think about human agency in the age

(30:57):
of algorithms? WHOA These are the big questions? Um, Well,
I mean I think that we have to be careful
not to give the machines more agency than they have.
And there are people who are making those machines. So
when we talk about, you know, the free will of
people versus machines, it's like the free will of people

(31:18):
versus the people who made the machines. To me, technology
is just a tool, and I personally don't want to
live in a world that has no algorithms and no
technology because these are useful tools. But I want to
decide when I'm using them and what I use them for.
And so my perspective is really from the point of

(31:40):
view of a person who has been making the tools,
and I think that we need to make sure that
those folks have the free will to say, no, I
don't want to make those tools, or this should not
be used in this way, or we need to modify
this tool in this way so those tools don't run
away from us. Um So, I guess I I kind

(32:02):
of disagree with the premise that it's people versus machines
because people are making the machines and we're not at
the terminator stage yet. Currently it's people and people, right,
So so let's so let's like work together to make
the right things um for people. Yes, Kasha, thank you
so much for spending this time with me. I've learned
a lot and now I'm just thinking about Arsenic and

(32:24):
my muffins. Thanks so much for having me. I've really
enjoyed it. Garbage in, garbage out. It's a cycle that
we see that doesn't just apply to the world of
artificial intelligence, but everywhere. If I feed my body junk,
it turns to junk. If I fill my planet with filth,

(32:46):
it turns to filth. If I inject my Twitter feed
with hatred, that breeds more hatred. It's pretty straightforward, but
it doesn't have to be this way. In essence, kashas
to standardize thoughtfulness, and that fills me with so much hope.

(33:06):
We're all responsible for something or someone, so let's always
do our best to really consider what they need to thrive.
If we put a little more goodness into our ai,
our bodies, our planet, our relationships, and everything else, we'll
see goodness come out. And that's a psychle I can

(33:29):
get behind goodness in, goodness out. This is just one
part of the how does citizen conversation about data? Who
does data ultimately benefit? If the data is not benefiting
the people, the individuals, the communities that provided that data.

(33:51):
Then who are we uplifting at the cost of others justice?
Next week, we dive deeper into how it's collected in
the first place, and we meet an indigenous geneticist reclaiming
data for her people. See you. Then we asked Kasha

(34:14):
what we should have you do, and they came up
with a lot. So here's a whole bunch of beautiful
options for citizening. Think about this. Like people, machines are
shaped by the context in which they're created. So if
we think of machines and algorithmic systems as children who
are learning from us, we're to parents. What kind of

(34:35):
parents do we want to be? How do we want
to raise our machines to be considerate, fair, and to
build a better world than the one we're in today.
Watch Coded Bias. It's a documentary that explores the fallout
around m I T media lab researcher Joy will Ameni's
discovery that facial recognition don't see dark skin face as well,

(34:57):
and this film is capturing her journey to put for
the first ever legislation in the US that will govern
against bias and the algorithms that impact us all. Check
out this online buying resource called the Privacy Not Included
Buying Guide. Mozilla built this shopping guide which tells you
the data practices of the app or product that you're considering,

(35:19):
and it's basically the product reviews we need in this
hyper connected era of data theft and hoarding and non
consensual monetization. Donate if you've got money, you can distribute
some power through dollars to these groups that are ensuring
that the future of AI is human and just, the

(35:39):
Algorithmic Justice League, the a c L You, and the
Electronic Frontier Foundation. If you take any of these actions,
please brag about yourself online. Use the hashtag how to citizen.
Tag us up on Instagram at how to Citizen. We
will accept general direct feedback to our inbox common at

(36:00):
how to citizen dot com and make sure you go
ahead and visit how to citizen dot com because that's
the brand new kid in town. We have a spanky
new website. It's very interactive. We have an email list
you can join. If you like this show, tell somebody
about thanks. How to Citizen with Baryton Day is a
production of I Heart Radio Podcasts and Dust Light Productions.

(36:23):
Our executive producers are Me Barryton Day Thurston, Elizabeth Stewart,
and Misha Yusuf. Our senior producer is Tamika Adams, our
producer is Ali Kilts, and our assistant producer is Sam Paulson.
Stephanie Cohen is our editor, Valentino Rivera is our senior engineer,
and Matthew Lai as our apprentice. Original music by Andrew Eathan,
with additional original music for season three from Andrew Clausen.

(36:46):
This episode was produced and sound designed by Sam Paulson.
Special thanks to Joel Smith from My Heart Radio and
Rachel Garcia at dust Light Productions.
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