NFHA has addressed harms associated with AI or automated systems since its inception in 1988. We first concentrated our efforts on prohibiting or restricting the use of discriminatory automated systems such as credit and insurance scoring, underwriting, and pricing models, in housing and financial services.
Several years ago, while litigating a major case against then-Facebook, it became even more clear that technology, including AI or Automated Systems are the new civil and human rights frontier and, as a civil rights agency, we had to be a leader in this sector. Thus, we established our Responsible AI Lab with an initial focus on Tech Equity. The Lab is comprised of researchers and engineers committed to civil and human rights principles and is headed by one of the world’s premier AI Research Scientists, Dr. Michael Akinwumi. NFHA’s Responsible AI Lab has five workstreams founded on each of the following technical and policy research pillars:
Tech Equity: We focus on developing and advocating for methodologies that ensure automated systems offer equitable access to housing opportunities.
Privacy: We strive to test and promote technologies that balance consumer privacy with the need for access to eliminate bias in automated systems.
Explainability: We advocate for consumers’ right to explanations for automated decisions and work to test and promote methodologies that clarify the reasoning or design behind automated systems.
Reliability: We focus on testing and advancing techniques to ensure only safe and valid automated systems are used in housing applications.
Controllability: We work on human-centered AI governance and on advancing technical and policy solutions to determine when human-centered alternatives should take precedence over automated systems in housing decisions, particularly when data quality is poor, infrastructure is inadequate, or there is a lack of social awareness about harms of automated systems.
Since launching our Responsible AI work, NFHA has contributed to, advocated for, and created technical and policy solutions that advance responsible use of technologies in housing, including the White House’s AI Bill of Rights, the National Institute of Science and Technology’s Risk Management Framework, the development of a state-of-the-art framework for auditing algorithmic systems, and other policies.