Your Bias is in the Details

Earlier this summer, my sister and I were wandering Best Buy and she was very excited to show me a fridge that lights up when you knock on it.  I was deeply alarmed by this (and Lauren still thinks I’m being ridiculous) and went on to ramble for a good while about what I think the perils of inserting automated gestural interfaces into household technologies like fridges are.  We then saw Amazon’s Alexa, which naturally alarmed me even more for its ability to completely innervate and surveil all of your household activities.  Technology is designed to interact with us and to be interacted with, and the more we automate the processes this technology does, the more humanized the technology will become so that its ability to interact with us and be interacted with fits smoothly into our everyday lives.  And as we design technology to be humanized artificial intelligence, we insert very real human bias into our artificial intelligence. Continue reading “Your Bias is in the Details”

Faulty Phone Algorithms: Reflections on the Idea of Home

As I’m sitting in an airport for the fifth time in two weeks, I’m thinking about the idea of home and what it means to have a home. The flux of “home” as a college student has really caused me to adjust my personal definition of the word to better suit its current purpose in my life. College, at least for me, is funny for the concept of home because I live in a dorm but I also haven’t really moved out of my home in Florida. And my dorm feels like a home but I’m reminded of my own impermanence in its existence when I put everything I own in boxes at the end of every year and move into a new dorm. And I say, “I’m going home,” when I visit my family in Florida but I also say, “I’m going home,” when I return to Providence. My phone’s algorithm, coincidentally, is equally confused about where home is for me, and has called my Florida house, my dorm, several friends’ dorms, the library, and (most recently and perhaps most appropriately) the dance studio my home. So it’s a squirrelly definition.

Continue reading “Faulty Phone Algorithms: Reflections on the Idea of Home”