Most of us think of technology as a neutral force. Objects or processes are designed and implemented to solve problems and there are no biases, implied or overt, at work. But Sabelo Mhlambi says, not so fast. The computer scientist and researcher says technology cannot be neutral. What gets made, who makes it and uses it, and why is dependent upon our societies — and all societies are biased.
“Technology will only replicate who we are,” he explains. “Our social interactions will still occur online anyway. So, there’s nothing magical about technology where it somehow brings neutrality or brings equality or equity.”
Mhlambi is a Technology and Human Rights Fellow at Harvard University. His work focuses on artificial intelligence and the intersection of ethics, technology, and human rights. He was in Milwaukee in May to speak at UWM, and he joined us then to talk about the kind of issues he’s working on and why technology will only take us so far.