BIAS- Think of it Like Machine Learning


With a quick Google search, I find machine learning to be defined as “a branch of artificial intelligence in which a computer generates rules underlying or based on raw data that has been fed into it.”

While the real techies might argue nuances of the definition, I think it’s simple and clear.  And it bears a striking resemblance to the underpinnings of “bias,” – a personal attribute most of us deny and shun. 

But let’s think about it: our brain is a huge processor, and our life experience has been the raw data fed into that processor each day since we were born. Our brain is designed to create generalized rules based on it’s experience with the raw data in it’s capacity.  We assume this as true, because our greatest scientists are working to mimic this. 

When applied personally, it might go something like this: people with professional jobs have more money; people with bigger houses must have professional jobs, and so on.  But, for most of the US workforce, it also might create generalizations like this: men are associated with working, and women are associated with home care; boys are associated with athletic, and girls are more creative; neighborhoods are meant for people who are similar, and outsiders bring discomfort and concern. 

Thus, the very process that allows us to navigate our life experience is also the process that limits us to seeing the possibility and value in other experiences.  And so it is with bias …