Profile: Abeba Birhane, PhD student at UCD’s Complex Software Lab and Lero

First published in The Irish Times, on Thursday, 27 August, 2020.

Abeba Birhane recently made a big discovery – that an academic library containing millions of images used to train artificial intelligence systems had privacy and ethics issues, and that it included racist, misogynistic and other offensive content.

Yes, I worked on this with Vinay Prabhu – a chief scientist at UnifyID, a privacy start-up in Silicon Valley – on the 80-million images dataset curated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We spent about months looking through this dataset, and we found thousands of images labelled with insults and derogatory terms. 

Using this kind of content to build and train artificial intelligence systems, including face recognition systems, would embed harmful stereotypes and prejudices and could have grave consequences for individuals in the real world.

Read the full Research Lives profile in the Irish Times.