Professor, NYU Stern School of Business; Founder, Future Today Institute; Author, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity
Amy Webb is a quantitative futurist, professor of strategic foresight at NYU Stern School of Business, and founder of the Future Today Institute, a strategy consulting firm. She’s a Fellow in the United States-Japan Leadership Program and a Foresight Fellow in the US Government Accountability Office Center for Strategic Foresight. Previously, Webb was a Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and a delegate on the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission. She’s a best-selling author of three books, most recently, The Big Nine: How The Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity. Webb was named to the Thinkers50 Radar list and won the 2017 Thinkers50 Radar Award.
This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity
Amy Webb: The people who built the [TSA screening technology] weren’t people who were familiar with enormous hair, or weaves, or bras with underwire...The system wasn’t trained to recognize me. Why? Because somebody like me wasn’t in the room when the data set was built, when the algorithms to use that data were built, when the testing was done, and when the learning was done. That entire chain of decision-making excluded me, which now means that when I go through this stupid machine at the airport I can expect someone to get very familiar with me. That’s a small inconvenience. We could probably spend three hours going through serious infractions in the criminal justice system, and [discover] serious ways in which this is being used to really hurt people.