The Coded Gaze

The Algorithmic
Justice League

Equitable and accountable AI

This series of four video works by Algorithmic Justice League, an organisation that combines art and research to illuminate the social implications and harms of artificial intelligence, will premiere in the Netherlands at Nxt Museum.

In The Coded Gaze, Poet of Code and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League Joy Buolamwini reveals personal frustrations with facial recognition technologies and the need for more equitable and accountable approaches to AI.

In today’s world, AI systems are used to decide who gets hired, the quality of medical treatment we receive, and whether we become a suspect in a police investigation. While these tools show great promise, they can also harm vulnerable and marginalised people, and threaten civil rights. Unchecked, unregulated and, at times, unwanted, AI systems can amplify racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination.

The Algorithmic Justice League’s mission is to raise awareness about the impacts of AI, equip advocates with empirical research, build the voice and choice of the most impacted communities, and galvanise researchers, policy makers, and industry practitioners to mitigate AI harms and biases. 

Digging deeper into “the coded gaze”, the research behind Gender Shades revealed that IBM, Microsoft and Face++ were better at guessing the gender of male faces than female – and especially struggled on darker female faces. The work demonstrates that automated systems are not neutral; they reflect the priorities, preferences and prejudices of those who have the power to mould artificial intelligence.

Demonstrating real-world examples of this research is a spoken word piece AI, Ain’t I A Woman? by Joy Buolamwini. This piece highlights the ways artificial intelligence can misinterpret the images of iconic black women: Oprah, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Shirley Chisholm. Finally, Voicing Erasure a poetic piece recited by champions of women’s empowerment and leading scholars on race, gender, and technology, questions: Is it okay for machines of silicon and steel or flesh and blood to erase womens’ contributions?, led by new research by Allison Koenecke.