Apple Card ‘sexist’ algorithm should be withdrawn, says Warren

US Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has said that the Apple Card ‘sexist’ algorithm should be withdrawn if the claimed bias cannot be explained …











Background

The controversy began when Ruby on Rails creator David Hansson tweeted that Goldman Sachs gave him an Apple Card credit limit 20 times higher than his wife, despite the fact that their assets are shared and she actually has a better credit score than he does.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak reported the same, in his case noting that his limit is ten times higher than that of his wife, again despite shared assets which should make them equally creditworthy.

Hansson said that although the issue was resolved after his tweet went viral, it brings into question the algorithm used to determine Apple Card credit limits.

My belief isn’t there was some nefarious person wanting to discriminate. But that doesn’t matter. How do you know there isn’t an issue with the machine-learning algo when no one can explain how this decision was made?

Goldman Sach’s response to Apple Card sexism claims

The bank originally issued a brief statement stating that each individual’s credit line is evaluated individually, based on a range of factors which include income, credit score, debt and how debt has been managed. Taking all of this into account, it says, different family members could be offered different limits.

When the row didn’t go away, Goldman issued a new statement stating that its evaluation system is not aware of the gender or marital status of the applicant, and offering to re-evaluate the credit limit of anyone who felt an error had been made.

Elizabeth Warren speaks out

Warren has echoed Hansson’s concern that Goldman appears unable to explain how the algorithm works or why it would make the Apple Card appear sexist in its determination of credit limits, reports Reuters.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned Goldman Sachs’s response to allegations of bias in how the bank evaluates applicants for Apple Inc’s credit card, suggesting it should pull down the algorithm if it cannot be explained, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

She rejected the bank’s current stance of inviting people to contact customer support if they were unhappy with their credit limit.

It’s the company’s responsibility to come forward with the information about how that algorithm was designed and the exact impact of it, the Democratic presidential candidate said, adding that “if they can’t do it, then they need to pull it down”.

“We are beginning to understand better that algorithms are only as good as the data that gets packed into them,” Warren added.

So far, the Apple Card issuer has only repeated its claim that the process is not sexist.

Goldman Sachs has not and will never make decisions based on factors such as gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other legally prohibited factors when determining credit worthiness.

Warren has previously accused Apple of attempting to ‘snuff out competition‘ and called for the breakup of tech giants. In Apple’s case, she says, the company should not be able to run the App Store and offer its own apps.

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