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Artificial intelligence has a diversity crisis

Artificial intelligence has a diversity crisis

AI Now, a research institute that examines the social impact of artificial intelligence, has just published a study in which it diagnoses the AI industry with a "diversity crisis". With this diagnosis, the study addresses questions that we probably had not asked ourselves before when thinking about the development of these new technologies.

The study itself is called "Discriminating Systems" and is available for reading in its original version at this link. According to the findings of the study, several gaps or deficiencies in the field of artificial intelligence are reported. Next is one of them:

Crisis of gender diversity and race in the AI sector: "inequality in the AI industry is extreme". Eighty percent of AI teachers are men, and only 18 percent of the authors at relevant conferences in the field are women. Facebook's AI research department is 15% women and Google's only 10%. There are no public data on the occupation of trans persons or other gender minorities. For people of color, the situation is even worse. For example: only 2.5% of Google workers are nonwhite, while in Facebook and Microsoft the figure reaches only 4%. Given the decades of work and investment to reverse this type of inequality, the situation is alarming.

AndroidPIT 16 9 shutterstock 622521101
The AI industry is broadly dominated by the white male. / © AndroidPIT

Of course, the report makes a number of suggestions for improving the current state. For example: companies could improve their transparency by publishing reports on work and its financial compensation, broken down by race and gender. The publication of transparency reports on harassment and discrimination is also suggested.

Well, even with the exposition of these problems and suggestions, the approach remains in the field of abstraction, but has very clear consequences in daily life and in the daily use of various technologies. For example, the unconscious biases of white men may influence achievements designed for facial recognition, in turn affecting historically marginalized groups. To name an example, the use of a program to guess people's sexual orientation using a facial recognition system, an experiment carried out by researchers at Stanford University.

Many workers in the technology industry have risen to point out major problems in the development of artificial intelligence, prompting the companies in which they work to suspend or revise the use of tools with the potential to harm vulnerable or minority groups. Amazon employees have questioned managers about the company's use of facial recognition. More recently, Google employees rose up against an IA ethics oversight board that included the president of the Heritage Foundation, a group known for lobbying against the rights of LGBTG people. In response, the company dissolved the board completely.

The authors of the report conclude that the crisis of diversity in the field of AI is well documented and very broad in scope. "It can be seen in unequal workplaces throughout industry and in academia, in the disparities in hiring and promotion, in the AI technologies that reflect and amplify biased stereotypes, and in the resurfacing of biological determinism in automated systems."

What do you think about that? Have any of you experienced or witnessed a case of discrimination by a system based on artificial intelligence? You can tell us about your experience in the comments.

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5 comments

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  • Once again the leftist identitarian media are screaming that the sky is falling down because we have too many straight white men programming the computers. Because they are straight white men it is automatically assumed they will automatically build rampant prejudice into their algorithms. Our cars will automatically run over anyone who isn't a straight white male, minorities will not receive their drone deliveries as quickly as their white counterparts, and our personal care robots will ignore the needs of any minority patients. What a load of poppycock.

    How about we get a load of Muslim men to do the programming? Of course, Muslim women can't do programming unless they are supervised by their husband or a male member of their family. Of course they will have to make sure that any homosexuals affected by their algorithms are immediately dispatched from the roof of the nearest tall building by the same drone that delivers their pizza.

    When you talk about diversity in tech, the only diversity you need to worry about is diversity of thought. This can happen regardless of the prevailing sex, race and religion of the programmers involved, not all straight white programming men are members of the KKK.


  • I've often been curious, because it is so hard to find statistics on this outside the West, what the situation is in Asia. For example, at Tencent and Alibaba how many AI developers are women? How many are Hui, Zhuang, Uyghur, Yi, Tibetan, Bai, Yao or Quin vs the majority Han? In Japan at their major Robotics firms, how many women developers, how many aboriginal Ainu or Yamato or Okinawans/Ryukyuan vs majority ethnic Japanese? And so on. Though really the male/female ratios will be more telling as both China and Japan have massive majorities so the expected presence of minority populations within any industry is small.


  •   16
    Deactivated Account 5 months ago Link to comment

    ARE YOU KIDDING? go back to buzzfeed with this BS. don't bring the SJW movement into the tech world. men are generally better at programming and tend to prefer it more than women.

    people like yourself are the true sexists and racists. you bring race into the mix, singling out white people while ignoring the predominance of indians and asians. you also neglect the preferences of women and apparently have decided that women should do things they aren't interested in.

    GOOD FOR YOU.

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