It’s back to the 1950s thanks to sexist algorithms that bedevil ...

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It’s back to the 1950s thanks to sexist algorithms that bedevil AI

Should computers be subject to the same basic rule as kids sitting maths exams? One furious entrepreneur thinks so

Harry de Quetteville

It was the sketch show Little Britain that popularised the phrase “computer says no”. The line struck a chord with millions who had experienced utter impotence as faceless, unexplainable calculations affected crucial aspects of their lives, such as banking or shopping.

About 15 years later those sketches seem more prophesy than comedy. For today computers are deputised to make more and more critical decisions about what we can and can’t do, what we are and are not entitled to. They are trusted to analyse ever greater reams of data and to draw conclusions about the future: about whether criminals will re-offend; whether job applicants will become good workers; or, in the case of Jamie Heinemeier Hansson, what the credit limit for her Apple Card should be.

Not very much, was the answer. Or at least, nothing like as much as her husband, the entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson, despite the fact that they share their assets. He grew so frustrated with the fact that he was allowed to spend 20 times as much on his card that he posted an expletive-laced series of tweets describing Apple Card as “such a fucking sexist program”. The couple, he pointed out, “file joint tax returns”, split their property and have been “married a long time”. So why was it that her credit limit was so vastly lower than his?..

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