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Articles on Fairness

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Algorithms can decide your marks, your work prospects and your financial security. How do you know they’re fair?

A UK controversy about school leavers’ marks shows algorithms can get things wrong. To ensure algorithms are as fair as possible, how they work and the trade-offs involved must be made clear.
As they grow older, girls increasingly see political leadership as a “man’s world.” Bos, Angie et al

Girls learn early that they don’t have much of a place in politics

As young children learn about politics and political figures, they internalize the idea that politics is a man’s world, which ultimately means political representation is heavily skewed toward men.
Even young children are very aware of whether they’re getting their fair share. Jupiterimages/PHOTOS.com via Getty Images Plus

Selfish or selfless? Human nature means you’re both

Cognitive neuroscientists use brain imaging and behavioral economic games to investigate people’s sense of fairness. They find it’s common to take care of yourself before looking out for others.
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past portraits of Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Bonnie Henry on a boarded up business in downtown Vancouver, B.C. on April 1, 2020. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Politicians appeal to our sense of fairness in the battle against COVID-19

Politicians and public health officials appeal to our sense of fairness in requesting the public’s co-operation in controlling the pandemic. But COVID-19 doesn’t affect everyone equally.
When algorithms make decisions with real-world consequences, they need to be fair. R-Type/Shutterstock.com

How can we make sure that algorithms are fair?

A machine learning expert predicts a new balance between human and machine intelligence is on the horizon. For that to be good news, researchers need to figure out how to design algorithms that are fair.
To feel a pang of pleasure at the misfortune of others is to be human. VixCompaNi/Shutterstock.com

Why does it feel good to see someone fail?

Schadenfreude seems to arise out of envy and a sense of justice. But some psychologists believe a darker impulse is at play.
How fast can it get here? Box delivery image via Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

Algorithms can be more fair than humans

Algorithms can discriminate, even when their designers don’t intend that to happen. But they also can make detecting bias easier.
Jim Thorpe and Ben Johnson were both banned from the Olympics. But if each had played at different points in history, they would have been allowed to compete. Nick Lehr/The Conversation

When doping wasn’t considered cheating

In sports, what’s considered fair play has changed throughout history. At one point, even looking ‘too poor’ was grounds for exclusion.

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