The perfect babysitter

“Social media shows a person’s character. So why did she come in at a 2 and not a 1?”

The perfect babysitter
(Photo by Alex Pasarelu)

Full story: Wanted: The ‘perfect babysitter.’ Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude.

“Running this system on teenagers: I mean, they’re kids!” Williams said. “Kids have inside jokes. They’re notoriously sarcastic. Something that could sound like a ‘bad attitude’ to the algorithm could sound to someone else like a political statement or valid criticism.”

And when the system gets it wrong — suggesting, for instance, that a babysitter abuses drugs — it can be impossible for a parent to know. The system’s clear-cut ratings and assertions of confidence might lead parents to expect it to be far more accurate or authoritative than a human could be, steering parents toward sitters they otherwise would have avoided or away from people who had already earned their trust.

“There are no metrics yet to really make it clear whether these tools are effective in predicting what they say they are,” said Miranda Bogen, a senior policy analyst at Upturn, a Washington think tank that researches how algorithms are used in automated decision-making and criminal justice. “The pull of these technologies is very likely outpacing their actual capacity.”

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