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Goldman Sachs Does Not Use Gender to Determine Apple Card Credit Limits

Apple and Goldman Sachs have both come under fire for perceived gender bias. They’re accused of implementing an algorithm that gives women lower credit limits than men.

By Chand Bellur

November 19, 2019 at 12:19 p.m. PDT

Goldman Sachs Does Not Use Gender as Input in Credit Assessment Algorithm

Social media is the modern day scarlet letter. With the surgical precision of a cluster bomb, it haphazardly adjudicates revenge on anyone who happens to come into the crosshairs. Some of the worst violators escape unscathed, while other, lesser culprits become scapegoats.

This seems to be the case with the Apple Card’s alleged gender bias. The algorithm has been inspected by a third-party auditor, and it doesn’t take gender as an input in determining credit limits or eligibility.

Critics claim that other factors can be used to determine gender, but fail to show how these have been used. Wired magazine, in particular, presents the following conjecture on their website. (Wired famously had a cover story pronouncing that the World Wide Web is dead, and has been replaced by apps. I guess my bank account hasn’t noticed that yet… They have a website too? Isn’t the web dead? Or is Wired just grossly inaccurate and misleading?)

it is entirely possible for algorithms to discriminate on gender, even when they are programmed to be “blind” to that variable. For another, imposing willful blindness to something as critical as gender only makes it harder for a company to detect, prevent, and reverse bias on exactly that variable

This is correct, but has Goldman Sachs done this? Why would they do this? They want to make money off of men, women, children, dogs, cats and anything with a pulse. It’s Goldman Sachs, after all. What’s their motive? Maybe we should wait for the computer scientists’ opinion, rather than one of Wired’s “journalists”.

Wired’s article continues on this path of conjecture and damnation. As someone who is extremely critical of corporate America, I almost want to go along with it. The problem is, I dislike media bias, and they too are part of the corporate America problem.

Wired isn’t the PBS NewsHour or The Economist. It’s a grossly biased, haphazard and sloppy publication written by people who are only on the periphery of technology. As a former enterprise software engineer, virtually every article from Wired makes me shake my head in disgust. Most technology is wireless these days. Even their name is antiquated and inaccurate.

New York State Department of Financial Services Investigating Apple Card

Wired’s article fails to mention one very critical point — the New York State Department of Financial Services is investigating the algorithm. It’s probably best to wait for this investigation to conclude before making up our own false speculations. Of course, if one’s goal is to publish conjecture, perhaps to benefit a competing financial institution, omitting facts is a useful tactic. Disallowing comments on the article prevents knowledgeable readers from correcting errata.

Overall, this seems like another social media movement that started with good intentions, yet has been exploited for the ends of yet another large corporation. Let’s wait for the NY State DFS to examine the evidence to see if there’s really gender bias, or if the tale is once again wagging the dog.


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