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9 - Discrimination in the Age of Algorithms

from Part II - Business, Regulations, and Decision-Making with Algorithms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 October 2020

Woodrow Barfield
Affiliation:
University of Washington
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Summary

Imagine: a FinTech lender, that is, a firm using computer programs to enable banking and financial services, which introduce a new product based on algorithmic artificial intelligence (AI) underwriting. The lender combs through the entirety of an applicant’s financial records to review where the applicant shopped, what purchases she made, purchase volumes and frequency, how much credit and debt she had, and whether she made utility and rent payments on time. The lender also reviews her mobile phone usage to understand how much time she spent on her phone and what she was engaged in, whether it was at work or at home, her typical geographic areas of travel, the frequency of her text messages, and how many spelling errors she made. (We’ll leave her social media usage out of this for now.) Through this mix of financial and behavioral data, the FinTech lender underwrites her application. It does the same for millions of other customers with little to no credit history, but who have long lived within their means, shopped responsibly, paid rent and utilities on time, and spent many hours at work.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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