AI and “Equality by Design”

Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The AI + Society Initiative and the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession, in collaboration with the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society present:


AI and “Equality by Design”


Bita Amani


Wednesday, November 24, 2021
at 11:30 ET


Watch The Video Now



Join us for a conversation with Bita Amani on the need to rethink the regulation of algorithms with “Equality by Design” principles.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly offered by proponents of its use as a tool for overcoming human biases, errors in judgement, and irregularities in decision-making, promising to provide a greater measure of predictability and consistency in decisions and, therefore, in the rule of law. For its critics, generating consistency in decision-making is a means of entrenching and amplifying discriminatory practices in a way that reproduces privilege and inequality in human relations through the use of pattern discrimination and predictive analytics, while simultaneously rendering these practices less transparent, explainable, and contestable. In both cases, technology is catapulted to the forefront of law as constitutive of lived realities and the governance of human relations, whether in private or public sphere, rendering law perhaps nothing more than a technology too soon to become obsolete.

Algorithms feed neural networks with neo-liberalism’s relations of power and inequality, and thus have the capacity to “bake in inequality”, to reproduce bias, and effectively to pass of the descriptive output of “code” as law, and such “law” as the normative aspirations of justice. More than ex post remedial mechanisms in law are needed to address such harms: if the rule of law is to retain its comparative advantage, an enforceable “Equality by Design” default for computer programming, consistent with the aim of a “human-centred approach” to AI governance, is required. 

Dr. Bita Amani will present her work on “AI and ‘Equality by Design’”, published in Florian Martin-Bariteau and Teresa Scassa (eds.), Artificial Intelligence and the Law in Canada (LexisNexis Canada, 2021). Borrowing from well-established “Privacy by Design” principles, Dr Amani argues for similar, strengthened implementation in domestic law and policies for equality as the default value-based inclusive design for machine-learning algorithms and predictive analytics.

About the Speaker

Dr. Bita Amani, BA (York, with Distinction), LLB (Osgoode Hall), SJD (UofT), is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Queen’s University in Kingston and Co-director of Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s. She is Adjunct Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School (OPD LLM), and lawyer with Spark LLP. She teaches courses in intellectual property (IP), information privacy, and feminist legal studies (workshop), and is currently working on a number of issues related to tech governance, intellectual property, equality and anti-discrimination, including in relation to algorithmic errors, decision making, and governance. She has numerous publications including Trademarks and Unfair Competition - Cases and Commentary on Canadian and International Law Second Edition (Toronto: Carswell, 2014, with Carys Craig) and “AI and Equality By Design” in Florian Martin-Bariteau & Teresa Scassa, eds., Artificial Intelligence and the Law in Canada (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2021). Dr. Amani has served as consultant to the provincial government on gene patenting and on the e-Laws project for the Ministry of the Attorney General (Ontario) Office of the Legislative Counsel (OLC), where she also served briefly as a legislative drafter. She is called to the Bar of Ontario (2000).


The event is made possible thanks to the support of the Scotiabank Fund for the AI + Society Initiative at the University of Ottawa.


This event will be in English only.
This event will be recorded.


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