Mastercard seeks racial equity in credit approvals through new data center

Mastercard and Howard University have provided a $5m grant to create a centre focused on eliminating biases in AI and making the credit approval process more racially equal.  

The Center for Applied Data Science and Analytics (CASDA) will look to provide data scientists with expertise in how to eliminate AI biases and foster greater racial equity in the credit approval process.

According to Howard University, CASDA – an interdisciplinary hub at the institution – will include a master’s degree in applied data science and a thought leadership series on racial equity and inclusive growth. The university added that CASDA will conduct research examining how data science can improve the detection of fraudulent credit activity with limited datasets as well as investigate how machine learning can contribute to minimising racial bias in credit approvals.

CASDA – which will launch in Spring 2022 – will be headed by William Southerland, who is professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. The Center will lead collaboration with other HBCUs to share best practices, research and curricula. It will also partner with other HBCUs across the country and industry leaders on efforts to advance talent development and diversity in the field of data science for social impact.

Southerland said, “Data science occurs when data is converted into useful and actionable knowledge. This process works best for societal advancement when data is approached without preconceptions and knowledge is interpreted without bias. That is why diversity in the data science profession is so critically important, and it’s also why this Mastercard-Howard collaboration is destined to be very impactful.”

Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth SVP Salah Goss added, “This problem is critical to address since biases in AI can effectively block access to vital services. Howard University is taking a novel approach to solving this problem by investing in a new generation of professionals who can combat the issue at its source.”

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