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Why we need women in AI

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11 March 2019

Women's Day is a movement that is celebrated on the 8th of March and spread throughout the whole month. It marks a call to action to accelerate gender equality, in which there is still so much to do. And parity in AI is no exception to this rule.

According to wired.com, the AI field is “even less inclusive than the broader tech industry, which has its own well-known diversity problems.”. And the chart below might be a good proof of it:

Percent of men and women who contributed work to three leading machine learning conferences in 2017. Source: Element AI

And why do we need women in AI? As Stephen Hawing said in a Reddit online Q&A session about AI: “A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.”

We cannot allow a super intelligent AI to be biased to a vision that represents only half of humanity (at best). That would be a great menace to equality in the future. Also, we need to get rid of gender stereotypes when designing AI-based systems (and we have examples when it comes to sexism and virtual assistants), while considering how to deal with complex situations.

We need to bring diversity to AI, not because it is important for AI, but because it is important for our own goals as humans.

I am happy to see growing initiatives on a global scale, that empower women in science and AI, for example:

I am not free of guilt. Although I feel grateful to work closely with very talented women around AI in our team and there are some awesome women in the AI space who I admire, follow and learn from (e.g. doctor Fei-Fei LiCassie KozyrkovNuria OliverNerea Luis, amongst many others), they are still a minority compared to men. There is still much to do, and we all need to contribute not only because it is fair, but because we need it.

Women’s Day is the perfect day to remind ourselves that we need to make this change happen and that it’s up to all of us to enable this change. Promoting diversity of gender is promoting diversity in AI.

 

 

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