Creating a More Open Brand of Technology

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While a human being’s potential knows no boundaries, it cannot solve all our problems. For instance, as smart as we are, we have always struggled in regards to looking at the whole picture. This particular limitation has hurt us on many occasions, and the worst part is that we could have avoided a good chunk of those occurrences, if we had just been a little more vigilant. Hence, to nullify the effects of our shortcoming and become better prepared for such events moving forward, the world brought dedicated regulatory into the fold. By doing so, we were able to establish a much needed order throughout our spectrum, except the utopia was short-lived, as technology’s arrival shook up the dynamics once again. Considering it was nothing like we had ever seen before, we were largely clueless about how to respond. The delay on our part will end up giving technology all the authority and that went on to produce many regulatory challenges. Nevertheless, over the recent past, the regulatory industry has made significant progress in regards to reclaiming its vantage point. In fact, GSA’s latest decision should add yet another step to the said journey.

The US General Services Administration, the agency responsible for regulating government websites and online services, has officially mobilized plans to improve the accessibility of government tech, and solve the racial bias concerns around the facial recognition technology. This comes as a part of GSA’s wider Equity Action Plan. To solve the accessibility element, the agency plans on conducting extensive product tests with communities that are not usually a part of the designing and development stages. Beyond catering to different communities’ needs, GSA wants to ensure these government services are available rather optimally to people from all economic segments. Hence, as per certain reports, it is working to make online portals perform better on old computers, phones or devices with limited bandwidth.

“Often government applications and websites have minimal language accessibility, confusing navigation, and poor design practices resulting in user mistrust and frustration,” the GSA stated,

For the racial bias issue, GSA will initiate a research around equity and bias in facial matching services. Apart from it, the agency also shared an intention to add an equity lens into its user guidelines, which influences government-wide and industry best practices.

“Through our own testing, GSA learned that major commercial implementations of facial matching had disproportionately high ‘False Rejection Rates’ for African Americans,” GSA said.

While these are the measures that headline the agency’s effort, there are plenty more for GSA to use at some point in the future, as it gears up to decentralize technology’s impact on the modern world.

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