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Bridge Bytes: Have Apple just released the world’s first sexist AI credit card?

14 Nov 10:00 by Nathan Baldwin

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It’s been less than four months since Apple released their new credit card product, and it is already under investigation for discriminating against women.

The investigation lead by New York’s Department of Financial Services, comes after multiple Apple Card users have reported a discriminate function in the way the service decides credit limits.

David Hansson, a tech entrepreneur and one of the first to complain about Apple’s ‘sexist AI’, claimed that despite his wife having a better credit score than him, Apple Card gave him a credit limit of over 20 times the amount that it gave his wife.

Even the co-founder of Apple says Apple is sexist

Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple along with Steve Jobs, openly expressed the same problem that Hansson reported on Twitter. Wozniak claimed “The same thing happened to us. We have no separate bank accounts or credit cards or assets of any kind. We both have the same high limits on our cards, including our AmEx Centurion card. But 10x on the Apple Card.”

This isn’t the first time an AI algorithm has been investigated under claims of discrimination. UnitedHealth Group, a health care company based in the US, is currently being investigated because their algorithm, which decides which patients would benefit from complex medical procedures, was found by researchers to be racially biased towards white patients.

Rotten apple or poison tree?

Perhaps it’s unfair to lay all the blame on Apple. Apple Card’s financial services are managed by Goldman Sachs, the global investment bank. It has also been brought to light that it is in fact Sachs’ algorithm that is programmed into Apple Card’s credit lending services. Surely they should be the ones apologising?  

Well in a perfect world, yes, they should be taking responsibility for what they have done and offering solutions to the consumers it has affected. But, this isn’t a perfect world, especially not when the word ‘lawsuit’ is involved. Any self-acknowledgement of wrong-doing from Goldman Sachs would undoubtedly open them up to a barrage of lawsuits.

A 21st Century stand-off

Like two dueling cowboys too stubborn to lay down their weapons (though it’s difficult to decide who’s the sheriff and who’s the outlaw), neither party is backing down. Apple are currently hiding behind their proclamation that their Apple Card product was “Created by Apple, not a bank.” Which basically means they’re unwilling to take any responsibility, despite their brand being plastered all over the marketing and packaging of the card and service.

The CEO of Goldman Sachs, Carey Hallo, issued a public statement regarding the reports of discrimination, no-where in it does it apologise or admit to the allegations, however it does provide users with an invitation to voice their complaints to the bank, but funnily enough there is no dedicated helpline or even an email address included in the statement. It is now in the hands of the DFS to decide who to point the finger at.

If you'd like to read more about AI visit our blog: Recruiter or Robot? Understanding the potential of AI in the recruitment industry

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