5. Non Discrimination

Publisher: The European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence

Discrimination concerns the variability of AI results between individuals or groups of people based on the exploitation of differences in their characteristics that can be considered either intentionally or unintentionally (such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or age), which may negatively impact such individuals or groups. Direct or indirect discrimination through the use of AI can serve to exploit prejudice and marginalise certain groups. Those in control of algorithms may intentionally try to achieve unfair, discriminatory, or biased outcomes in order to exclude certain groups of persons. Intentional harm can, for instance, be achieved by explicit manipulation of the data to exclude certain groups. Harm may also result from exploitation of consumer biases or unfair competition, such as homogenisation of prices by means of collusion or non transparent market. Discrimination in an AI context can occur unintentionally due to, for example, problems with data such as bias, incompleteness and bad governance models. Machine learning algorithms identify patterns or regularities in data, and will therefore also follow the patterns resulting from biased and or incomplete data sets. An incomplete data set may not reflect the target group it is intended to represent. While it might be possible to remove clearly identifiable and unwanted bias when collecting data, data always carries some kind of bias. Therefore, the upstream identification of possible bias, which later can be rectified, is important to build in to the development of AI. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that AI technology can be employed to identify this inherent bias, and hence to support awareness training on our own inherent bias. Accordingly, it can also assist us in making less biased decisions.