A fascinating debate is unfolding in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) about how to build ethics and fairness into the systems of this new technology.

For example, attempts to use algorithms to help US judges be less prejudiced have produced shocking results — some judges, using the algorithms, sentenced black defendants more, not less, harshly. The problem seems to be that the assumptions built into the algorithm can be prejudicial. While computer scientists used the base statistics of incarceration — black men in the US are disproportionately arrested and convicted — this actually made things worse, because the algorithm assumed the worst...

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