Apple and Goldman Sachs, two of the most recognizable companies in tech and finance, are caught up in a growing debate over whether lenders unintentionally discriminate when they use complex models to determine how Americans borrow money.
On Saturday, Bloomberg News reported that a Wall Street regulator had opened a probe into Goldman’s credit card practices after a viral tweet from a tech entrepreneur alleged that the Apple Card’s algorithms discriminated against his wife.
Now another high-profile user of the Apple Card—Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak— is calling for the government to get involved, citing excessive corporate reliance on mysterious technology.
“These sorts of unfairnesses bother me and go against the principle of truth. We don’t have transparency on how these companies set these things up and operate,” Wozniak said in an interview on Sunday. “Our government isn’t strong enough on the issues of regulation. Consumers can only be represented by the government because the big corporations only represent themselves.”
Wozniak said he can borrow 10 times as much as his wife on their Apple Cards even though they share bank and other credit card accounts, and that other lenders treat them equally.
“Algos obviously have flaws,” Wozniak said. “A huge number of people would say, ‘We love our technology but we are no longer in control.’ I think that’s the case.”
Lenders have promoted the models because they’re supposed to level the playing field among different borrowers by removing human error and focusing only on data.
“Our credit decisions are based on a customer’s creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law,” said Goldman spokesman Andrew Williams after the New York Department of Financial Services opened a probe into the bank’s card practices.
The investigation was launched in response to a series of Twitter posts from David Heinemeier Hansson, the founder and CTO of Basecamp, that railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got. The tweets, many of which contain profanity, immediately gained traction online—and a response on Twitter from Wozniak.