If you’ve followed the Apple story, you likely know of two key names, with one shared first name – Steve. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were the brains behind Apple, co-founding the company in 1976. Like all savvy consumers, Mr. Wozniak was recently on the lookout for a new credit card to accompany his Amex Centurion “Black Card”, and he and his wife both applied for the Apple Card from Goldman Sachs.
They share all assets, have identical income and virtually everything in their financial snapshot is equal – so why was Mr. Wozniak approved for a card with 10x the limit of his wife on equal footing? Apparently, he’s not the only one offering up the question, and similar patterns have emerged so many times, that New York State has opened up an investigation into discriminatory practices. Is the Apple Card and its AI approval technology sexist? It just might be…
The Apple Card launched as a “revolutionary” financial product this year, even though in reality it was basically picking up on preexisting ideas. Still, like all things “Apple”, it launched too much fanfare, and the diehards had to get their hands on one. After all, it’s made of Titanium.
But quickly, a pattern emerged. Men with equal, or worse off credit scores or incomes were being approved for greater spending limits than their female counterparts. Now, according to the BBC, New York’s Department of Financial Services has opened up an investigation, since any “discrimination” with a financial product violates New York law.
The same thing happened to us. I got 10x the credit limit. We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though. It’s big tech in 2019.
— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) November 10, 2019
Discrimination In Artificial Intelligence
If you’ve ever spoken to a bank, you’ve probably heard a human say “let’s see what the computer says”. That’s because virtually all approvals for credit products and other services are determined by AI factors, modelled by engineers.
What’s interesting, is that patterns emerged where the approval algorithms show bias, including with Apple’s own co-founder Steve Wozniak and his wife, who share all assets and have virtually identical financial snapshots. In the case of the Apple Card, they’re far from alone.
It’s impossible to say whether the algorithms, which were initially created by humans, were biased from the start, or whether the machine learning creates bias over time. Unfortunately for banks like Goldman Sachs and its Apple Card, it doesn’t matter whether the bias is the fault of the humans or the computers. Any and all discrimination is treated equally, and now New York State is on the case.