Bias and belief in meritocracy in AI and engineering – Susan Silbey, Brian Rubineau, Erin Cech, Carroll Seron

Susan Silbey, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of Humanities, Professor of Behavioral and Policy Science, MIT Sloan School of Management

From LSE Business Review 

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques increasingly leave engineering laboratories to be deployed as decision-making tools in Human Resources (HR) and related contexts, recognition of and concerns about the potential biases of these tools grows. These tools first learn and then uncritically and mechanically reproduce existing inequalities. Recent research shows that this uncritical reproduction is not a new problem. The same has been happening among human decision-makers, particularly those in the engineering profession. In AI and engineering, the consequences are insidious, but both cases also point toward similar solutions.

Bias in AI

One common form of AI works by training computer algorithms on data sets with hundreds of thousands of cases, events, or persons, with millions of discrete bits of information. Using known outcomes or decisions (what is called the training set) and the range of available variables, AI learns how to use these variables to predict outcomes important to an organisation or any particular inquirer. Once trained by this subset of the data, AI can be used to make decisions for cases where the outcome is not yet known but the input variables are available.

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Without access to credit, ex-cons may return to lives of crime – Carlos Fernando Avenancio-León

Carlos Fernando Avenancio-León, Researcher, Golub Center for Finance and Policy, MIT Sloan School of Management

From The Hill 

Every week, more than 10,000 prisoners are released from U.S. prisons and begin the long process of reintegrating into society.

For many, a successful reintegration will occur only if they can access the types of credit commonly used by all American citizens, such as credit cards and auto loans. For those unable to borrow, prospects for successful re-entry fall and recidivism risks rise. That’s bad for all of us.

Lack of access to credit can push former inmates into poverty traps and cycles of criminal behavior that hurts us all, but there are solutions that can change that.

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Crowdsourcing is the best weapon in fight against fake news – David Rand and Gordon Pennycook

Associate Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Sloan School of Management

From The Hill

The problem of misinformation isn’t new, but it gained widespread attention during the 2016 presidential election when blatantly false stories (“fake news”) spread widely on social media.

Since then, a broad consensus has emerged that we must better understand why people believe and share misinformation and figure out how to stop it.

Limiting the spread of fake news, hyperpartisan content, conspiracy theories and other kinds of misinformation is important for our democracy. It seems likely to decrease the gap between liberals and conservatives about basic facts and to diffuse some of the cross-party animosity that is so prevalent today. Less misinformation may also make it harder for individuals to win elections based on blatantly false claims.

While there has been a lot of scholarly work documenting the spread of misinformation, there has been much less study of possible solutions. And most of the solutions that social media companies have been deploying so far haven’t been very effective; they also have been almost exclusively focused on fake news rather than other kinds of problematic content.

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It’s all about business model innovation, not new technology – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

MIT Sloan Visiting Lecturer Irving Wladawsky-Berger

From The Wall Street Journal

To survive in today’s fast changing marketplace, every business–large or small, startup or long established–must be capable of a continual process of transformation and renewal. Surveys show that most executives agree, and in fact, many believe that business model innovation is even more important to their company’s success than product or service innovation. But other studies have determined that no more than 10% of innovation investments at established companies are focused on creating transformative business models.

This is not surprising. Most successful new business models come from startups. Despite the talent and resources at their disposal, business model success stories from well-established companies are relatively rare.

“Building a great business and operating it well no longer guarantees you’ll be around in a hundred years, or even twenty,” notes business model expert Mark Johnson in his new book, “Reinvent Your Business Model.”

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Apple expansion moves show how Silicon Valley is losing its grip on tech jobs – Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From MarketWatch 

Apple’s recent announcement that it’s building a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Tex. adds momentum to the trend among tech startups and investors to look beyond Silicon Valley to incubate and grow the next generation of innovative companies.

Moreover, in what amounts to doubling down on its satellite strategy, AppleAAPL, -1.06%  also said it will establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City, Calif., as well as expand in cities across the U.S., including Pittsburgh, New York, and Boulder, Colo. over the next three years — welcome economic boosts for those areas.

I’m not sounding the death knell for Silicon Valley. To be sure, this remarkable region south of San Francisco is still the brightest star in the global tech universe. Silicon Valley will remain Apple’s home base, as well as that of GoogleGOOGL, -1.23%  , Facebook FB, -0.01%  , Cisco Systems CSCO, +0.09%  , OracleORCL, -0.37%  , Intel INTC, -1.35%  and many others. Its position of dominance is not in jeopardy — yet.

Nonetheless, many of the tech startups planting their flag in Silicon Valley to be near angel investors, venture capitalists, investment banks, and tech talent are keeping only small teams there. They are increasingly utilizing less-costly satellite offices, remote co-working spaces, or other remote-work options for the majority of their employees.

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