February 29, 2024

Joy Buolamwini’s book “Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines” challenges the focus on existential risk posed by AI, arguing that AI systems are already causing harm in the present. While some may fear that AI could pose a future existential threat, Buolamwini argues that it is the existing AI systems, not hypothetical superintelligent agents, that are dangerous. She points to instances of AI falsely classifying individuals as criminal suspects, robots used for policing, and faulty self-driving cars that can endanger lives. Buolamwini calls for a shift in resources and legislative attention from hypothetical existential risks to addressing the real and present harms caused by AI systems. She also emphasizes the need to address algorithmic bias and the structural violence perpetuated by AI, and highlights the risks faced by marginalized and vulnerable communities. Buolamwini stresses the importance of involving everyday people at risk of experiencing AI harms in the fight for algorithmic justice. Her research reveals the urgent need to address the immediate problems and emerging vulnerabilities with AI and create a future where AI does not disproportionately burden marginalized and vulnerable individuals.

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