ACADEMIC ARTICLE SUMMARY
The Gender Panopticon: Artificial Intelligence, Gender, and Design Justice
Article Source: UCLA Law Review, Vol. 68, pp. 692-785, 2021
Publication Date:Time to Read: 2 minute read
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) surveillance systems often use binary male/female gender classifications, failing to recognize the complexity of LGBTQ+ identity formation.
Law and technology design should support gender self-determination.
- Transportation Security Administration systems do not allow for classifications other than male or female, resulting in distressing treatment for transgender travelers.
- Jeremy Bentham described the "panopticon," a prison design that allows constant surveillance by guards in a central tower, so the prisoners feel they are always being watched; today's AI-based surveillance technologies, often directed at the LGBTQ+ community, are comparable.
- Automated biometric gender recognition researchers make harmful assumptions:
- They assume that gender is binary, limited to male or female.
- They assume that gender is immutable.
- They assume that gender may be identified based on physical characteristics.
- Nonbinary persons are almost always misgendered.
- Three types of harm flow from gender panopticism, including distress, the censorship of LGBTQ+ expression, and the continued disparagement of minorities.
- Some courts recognize that discrimination against transgender people is a type of sex discrimination; government identification systems that treat every applicant as male or female are inaccurate as applied to transgender or intersex individuals.
- Limiting a transgender person's ability to declare their gender might infringe on First Amendment rights of free speech.
- Facebook and Google allow users to choose among many genders, but limit users to three pronoun choices (them, her, or his); the user’s choice of pronoun supports the sale of data to advertisers displaying gender-targeted ads.
- Gender self-determination should be coded into our technology.
- The right to be forgotten could support LGBTQ+ rights, by allowing an individual to erase occurrences of their deadname.
- Because gender is subjective, AI cannot identify gender with 100 percent accuracy.
- Allowing individuals to choose a gender means that some will face prejudice, unless security personnel are properly trained.
- AI systems could be trained to take cues about gender from pronoun usage.
- The principle of "inclusive neutrality" calls for the creation of a public realm in which gender divisions are not reinforced or enforced, and all individuals may self-identify.