Director Shalini Kantayya and UI Professor Deborah Whaley in Conversation
FilmScene — Facebook Live; Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.
“The more that humans share with me, the more I learn.”
This is the somewhat ominous voiceover, sourced from the Microsoft AI robot Tay, that opens Shalini Kantayya’s equally ominous documentary, Coded Bias. This line is ostensibly supposed to reassure us that robots rely on human inputs in order to function and only through increased interaction with humans can they “learn” new things. Kantayya’s excellent film should convince us that this relationship is not necessarily good.
I will confess to being one of what I suspect are a lot of Americans who don’t really understand what artificial intelligence is or how it works, despite the fact that it seems to interfere with our lives on an almost incessant basis. To my limited and tech-adverse sensibilities, AI seems a lot like HAL in 2001: a Space Odyssey or like the numbered social overloads in The Prisoner — disembodied, all-knowing and all-seeing sources of information that order their social spaces and impose, at least indirectly, their own sense of correctness by controlling the actions of other players (i.e. most humans) towards a desired outcome.
Before watching Coded Bias, I could pretty easily have