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Human Bias in CS Education Article and Questions

I've been looking for ways to celebrate the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with my AP CSP and Computer Science Discoveries students this year, and, like last year, I was drawn again towards the topics of algorithmic bias. 

This year, I started with this spoken word poem: AI, Ain't I A Woman? - Joy Buolamwini

Then, I went on to ask students:

  • What was happening in the video?
  • How do you feel about it?
  • What was the tone of the piece? (Cross-curricular English vocabulary question here...  Joy Buolamwini's mood and attitude towards algorithmic bias gives us the tone)
  • What do you think the purpose of this video was?

Ultimately, my goal was for a natural conversation to flow from those prompts, so we might consider how we should recognize our own biases when coding and interpreting code...

Some conversation came from it, but I didn't think we were really reaching the "Why should I care?" level of understanding. So I expanded the lesson. We read snippets from this article on Algorithmic Bias to have a shared definition of the concept and a place to start when considering the real harm that could come from it. Then, I had students breakout into groups of 3-4 to Google at least 3 other examples of algorithmic bias to report out to the class.

After some discussion, I shared these questions from an EdSurge article,  by Laura McBain and Ariam Mogos, for their consideration:

  • Am I creating this based on my own lived experience and expecting others who are different from me to use it?
  • Who benefits, who is being harmed or who is left out from the technology?
  • Whose stories is this dataset telling? Whose stories is this dataset leaving out? What was the historical context when this dataset was produced?
  • What don’t I know? Who should I ask and learn with?
  • I can design this but should I? What are the implications that need to be considered?

We ended class thinking about how questions like these could impact the way we code and the world we create.

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