Back in 2014, Amazon turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline its recruitment process, using a machine-learning algorithm to review résumés and automate its search for talent. Three years later it abandoned the programme after it became apparent it was biased against female candidates. Because it relied on historical hiring patterns — mostly of men — it built in a preference for male hires.

Last year, researchers in the US claimed they could predict criminality by running profile pictures through an AI algorithm. The project was roundly condemned, with scientists pointing out that it simply replicated existing racial biases in the criminal justice system, according to a report by tech magazine Wired...

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