Can AI Tools Perpetuate Housing Discrimination?
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The Bias Blind Spot: Can AI Tools Perpetuate Housing Discrimination?

Posted on March 25, 2024 by Grace Hill

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Imagine finding your dream apartment but then being rejected by an Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm with a hidden bias. This reality is the potential downside of AI in multifamily real estate housing.

Fueled by the success of ChatGPT, a wave of new AI services like Gemini and Jasper are flooding the market. With an estimated 1.5 billion people already using chatbots and 16% of employees incorporating AI tools like ChatGPT into their work, it’s clear that AI has a significant impact.

While AI tools like ChatGPT offer exciting possibilities for streamlining processes and personalizing the resident experience, concerns about Fair Housing compliance loom large. 

This blog explores the potential pitfalls of AI in multifamily real estate housing and strategies to mitigate them, ensuring everyone has access to Fair Housing.

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The Peril of Unconscious Bias

It’s like teaching your friend how to play a new game using an outdated rulebook. Your friend might learn the wrong way to play the game without realizing it. 

This scenario can happen with AI. Unfortunately, the historical data used to train AI algorithms often reflects societal biases. AI algorithms can then amplify these biases, leading to discriminatory outcomes, even when the person using these tools does not intend to perpetuate such biases.

A 2022 University of Southern California study found nearly 40% of “facts” used by AI are biased, supporting inaccurate stereotypes based on factors like race, gender, and occupation.

In multifamily housing, this can be particularly harmful. An AI tool analyzing rental history could penalize individuals from high-eviction zip codes, even if the applicant has a perfect record. This perpetuates existing housing disparities and violates Fair Housing laws.

Mitigating Bias in AI Tools

AI can be a great tool, but it’s important to work with fairness in mind. Here are some key strategies to avoid bias when using AI for your multifamily business: 

  • Scrutinize training data: Before implementing any AI tool, thoroughly analyze the data it’s trained on and remove any biases that could lead to discriminatory outcomes. Doing so might involve working with diverse data sets and consulting Fair Housing experts.
  • Let humans make the final call: Don’t let AI make final decisions alone. Human team members should review every process to ensure fair and balanced decision-making. 
  • Use transparent tools: Choose AI tools that offer transparency and explainability in their decision-making processes. This allows you to identify and address any potential biases in the system.

The AI Bill of Rights: A Ray of Hope?

In October 2022, the White House released the AI Bill of Rights, a set of principles (not laws) designed to promote responsible AI development. These principles focus on fairness, non-discrimination, and accountability, offering a promising framework for ethical AI use in multifamily housing and other sectors.

While not legally binding, the AI Bill of Rights encourages developers to consider potential AI harms and design systems that are fair, accountable, and respectful of people’s rights. This initiative reflects growing concerns about AI’s impact and could pave the way for future legislation promoting responsible AI use.

The Need for AI Guidelines

While a recent Business.com study shows significant employee adoption, particularly among upper management (who are three times more likely to use it than non-managers), a vast majority (83%) of U.S. employers lack clear guidelines for AI usage.

Because ChatGPT and other AI chatbots can generate biased and legally questionable content, multifamily employees must exercise caution when using such tools. Regardless of your business’s stance on AI, establishing clear guidelines ensures everyone understands the rules and promotes responsible technology use.

Build a Fair Future With Grace Hill

AI presents immense potential for the multifamily housing industry, but its ethical application is paramount. By acknowledging the potential for bias, implementing mitigation strategies, and embracing initiatives like the AI Bill of Rights, we can ensure AI empowers, not hinders, fair and accessible housing for all. Remember, technology should be a tool for progress, not a barrier to equal opportunity.

Here at Grace Hill, we’re passionate about helping businesses navigate the complexities of AI and ensure its responsible use. 

Our team of experts can partner with you to develop clear AI usage policies, implement robust bias-mitigation strategies, and ensure compliance with emerging regulations. We offer comprehensive training programs to educate your employees on responsible AI practices and empower them to leverage this technology effectively. 

Learn how Grace Hill’s solutions can help your multifamily business stay ahead of the curve and ensure Fair Housing for all. 

Grace Hill’s marketing content team aims to create informative resources that help multifamily and commercial industry professionals elevate their performance. From blog posts and ebooks to infographics, checklists and webinars, the Grace Hill team has a singular focus: creating meaningful and engaging content that resonates with real estate professionals across the industry.  However, what makes Grace Hill so unique is the range of collective experience and collaborative spirit of its marketing content team. A group of talented writers with expertise in the real estate industry, overall management effectiveness, marketing strategy, and operational efficiency, the team provides new ideas to take performance to the next level. As a thought leader, Grace Hill's content team constantly pushes the envelope, experimenting with new resources and tools to keep industry professionals ahead of the curve.  Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out in the real estate industry, the content team at Grace Hill is creating resources to help you succeed. Learn more about Grace Hill on LinkedIn.

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