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Report finds algorithms used by Connecticut state agencies could rely on biased data

Jason Dewey
Getty Images

A report finds algorithms used by many Connecticut state agencies sometimes rely on historically biased data sets. That means automated decision-making in the state could perpetuate discrimination.

Connecticut’s Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights authored the report. They want the state to be more transparent about the use of artificial intelligence to make decisions on things like hiring, child welfare, criminal justice and more.

Senator James Maroney (D-Milford) said algorithms used to make these decisions sometimes use data from years ago, when stereotypes surrounding age, race and gender were more prevalent.

“Machine learning just picks up what we’re doing now, and it amplifies and perpetuates that, so we don’t want to see those biases that we’ve known about be continued on.” 

The committee recommends the state create an AI Bill of Rights to establish an open data portal that lists where algorithms are used.

Maroney said while AI may not play a huge role in society right now, it is important that the state puts guard rails in place for the future.

“We just want to make sure that we’re doing it safely," Maroney said. "It’s product liability. It's like, you wouldn’t fly an airplane without testing it first. And depending on the risk, there needs to be more strenuous testing.” 

The Bill of Rights would also set up educational resources to increase the public’s understanding of AI.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.