Critical Summary on Batya Friedman and Helen Nissenbaum’s “Bias in Computer System”

Batya Friedman and Helen Nissenbaum, in their article Bias in Computer System research the problem of biases existing in modern computer systems, which actually mirror biases which exist in the modern society. The authors argue that the development of computer systems is influenced by numerous biases and it is important to understand them and possibly avoid to keep progressing fast and effectively. The authors focus on the analysis of actually cases through which they attempt to reveal existing biases.

In such a way, on analyzing numerous cases, the authors identified three major groups of biases which persist in computer systems. They are as follows: preexisting, technical and emergent. The authors discuss each group of biases in details. They argue that preexisting bias has its roots in social instructions, practices and norms. Hence the preexisting bias is determined by the social relations and, therefore, biases existing in the society which are naturally extrapolated on computer systems.

Furthermore, they argue that the technical bias arises from technical constraints of considerations. The authors stand on the ground that the development of modern technologies is constrained and, therefore, the development of new systems has to surmount existing boundaries to make a really significant progress or breakthrough.

As for the emergent bias, the authors argue that this bias arises in a context of use. Although other specialists have pointed to bias unparticular computer systems and have noted the general problem, the authors attempted to view the problem in details, analyze and understand its essence.

As a result, they arrived to the conclusion which clearly defines the three aforementioned biases affecting computer systems.

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