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Buttigieg fears tech could fuel racially biased credit decisions

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg answers questions from the media during the Mayor

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Buttigieg fears tech could fuel racially biased credit decisions


Pete Buttigieg fears that artificial intelligence may further fuel racial bias in America’s already challenging credit scoring system.

The 37-year-old Democratic presidential candidate was asked by a black business owner about the denial of funding during the Black Economic Alliance Forum that was held in Charleston, S.C.

“I’m very worried, living in an era where more and more of this is going to be done by algorithms and by big data, that we’re going to automate inequality by failing to be intentional about how some of these algorithms pick up structures and systems and attitudes and assumptions that were already racist in nature,” said Buttigieg, who is the mayor of South Bend, Ind., according to Bloomberg.

Several Big Tech firms have been criticized over the potential for bias in AI.

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Amazon for its facial recognition technology, which has been marketed to police departments in the United States, saying that it “automates” bias.

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg answers questions from the media during the Mayor’s Night Out on May 30, 2019, in South Bend, Ind.
((Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP))

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The millennial mayor said that AI, which critics have pointed out can exacerbate existing discrimination, can also be used to highlight bias.

“We need to look wholesale at how things like access to credit and scoring of credit work to break down racial bias in them,” he said. “The same tools that can perpetuate bias can also help us find it. They can help us analyze where these credit tools got it wrong.”

Buttigieg also called for using federal incentives and a “culture of entrepreneurship” to encourage bigger financial firms to invest in community development institutions.

The South Bend, Ind., mayor has struggled to garner support from African-American voters in a very large candidate field.

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