Federal agencies issue joint statement on AI-based discrimination

While AI and automated systems can be useful, they have the potential to produce outcomes that result in illegal discrimination, representatives from four federal agencies said today in a joint statement. The CFPB, Justice Department, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Trade Commission said that AI is being used to make critical decisions that affect individuals’ rights and opportunities, including job access, housing, credit opportunities, and other goods and services. “Although many of these tools offer the promise of advancement, their use also has the potential to perpetuate unlawful bias, automate unlawful discrimination and produce other harmful outcomes,” the agencies said.

Potential discrimination in AI systems can come in the form of outcomes skewed by unrepresentative or imbalanced datasets, a lack of transparency on how those outcomes were produced, and design flaws in the systems themselves, according to the agencies. “Today, our agencies reiterate our resolve to monitor the development and use of automated systems and promote responsible innovation,” they said. “We also pledge to vigorously use our collective authorities to protect individuals’ rights regardless of whether legal violations occur through traditional means or advanced technologies.”