Discussing + Examining CULTURAL BIAS In Specifications and Other Technical Documents

From IIW

Discussing + Examining CULTURAL BIAS In Specifications and Other Technical Documents

Wednesday 4E

Convener: Mike Maturo

Notes-taker(s): Liam Quin.

Session tags:

acknowledge bias, diverse organization creation, develop anti-bias efforts at IIW and beyond

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

Hosted by Mike Maturo of the City of Osmio

Attended by Kaliya, Jogi, Time, Kazue, Amy, Liam, John, Munir, and Elizabeth

Some reasons for attending:

-Japanese culture is very different

-saw a book, Automated Inequality

-MIT lab work in the area of bias

-people whose parents have no identity docs because of border changes

-gender bias

-design and architectural choices in tech that impact how we related to each other

-the context of technology development

-Lots of cultural, gender bias issues in India; interesting that in India there might be one device (phone) per family, not per identity

-diversity in W3C working groups and in specs

Bias is not only cultural, racial, or gender but disabled accessibility too

Linguistic bias: how does one from non-English-speaking culture do a search?

Example given: meditation app that was popular in US/UK but incredibly difficult to translate

Explicit biases are easier to address than implicit biases, but drive implicit biases (note off-chain values and their impact on on-chain infrastructure, so to speak)

Real-world inequalities/lack of diversities are manifesting in our technology

Bias is not always bad, e.g. staple guns made for men with big hands, but bias needs to be identified.

Book: “Blind Spots” on gender bias

Address bias by putting multiple people with different biases together (but some people don’t even know they’re biased)

You have to have self-awareness, so you can hear someone telling you that you’re biased

Old boys networks exist in the left, too: "I'm only going to work with people who are culturally sensitive"

“Human First Tech” is a website dealing with issues of bias

Remember, though, that fighting bias can lead to increased resistance from those in power

We take for granted at IIW that giving everyone an identity is good, but what is someone wants to opt-out?

If SSI means exercising who you are, you should have the right not to be identified.

You need to make something happen, and make it right. We need to have diversity to make it happen. Sales activities should be enabling this.


Rights must be balanced with responsibility; who is responsible for feeding people?

There are cultural assumptions about what white men do to built trust.

We should talk about accountability, not trust (e.g. accountability vs. trust frameworks)

What’s the average income of IIW people? Are we conscious of our class, of our privilege?

How can people recognize their privilege at IIW e.g. morning circle

At W3C, formal reviews for language, culture, and accessibility bias are conducted

6 mo children could distinguish chmpanzees as well as people; at 9 months could only distinguish humans. So we prune our abilities. So maybe white children not expost\ed to (say) African Americans don't learn, have early acquired bias.

UMichigan Geography of Thought

Lot of stuff here is about self-empowerment, anti-social-order

Ideas for IIW participation in anti-bias activities:

- anti-bias training for IIW leadership and community sessions

- PoC caucus (a la women’s breakfast) with parallel “white ally”

- code of conduct - there are links to several examples on the Open Source Bridge wiki

- white awareness

- Improve the pre-event video, feels like an exclusive video

- karaoke (again)

- prominent leadership spend/ multiple days in off-site training

- how can we help people here develop technology w/o biases in it?

- people building reflective of people who effects