A growing number of governments and companies use artificial intelligence (AI) systems to identify and track citizens and consumers. Faster check-ins at airports using facial recognition or a seamless and personalized shopping experience are just two of the touted benefits.
But this technology is fundamentally flawed when it comes to recognizing and categorizing human beings in all their diversity.
Many of these AI systems work by sorting people into two groups – male or female. The consequences for people whose gender does not match the sex they were assigned at birth can be severe. The algorithms are also programmed to reinforce outdated stereotypes about race and gender that are harmful to everyone.
This kind of technology is built on the mistaken idea that your gender and sexual orientation can be identified by how you look or sound, by how you move, or simply by how “male” or “female” your name is. It is a flaw that can easily fuel discrimination.
Imagine the humiliation of trying to catch your flight, and being stopped by a computer that determines you don’t match the gender marker in your passport. Or imagine not being able to access a public toilet just because a facial recognition algorithm thinks your face doesn’t look male or female enough. Unless we do something to stop it, this could soon be a reality for many people all over the world. And in malicious hands, such as law enforcement in countries with anti-LGBT+ laws, these tools could lead to serious harm for LGBT+ people.
We have a chance to stop the harm caused by this technology before it gets worse. In April 2021, the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, plans to propose a legal framework – that is, a set of rules and guidelines – to regulate artificial intelligence systems. This is a unique opportunity to ban automated recognition of gender and sexual orientation in the EU and prevent such tools from being exported around the world.
Sign this petition and urge the European Union to ban this technology that harms LGBT+ people around the world.