OPINION: Five reasons why AI needs women
For all the good that is being touted about AI, there are also some unsavoury reports on the effect AI could have on the current demographic of the workforce, far more imminent than the Hollywood narrative of “robots taking over the world” - if true this could rock women’s hard-fought and rightful place on the career ladder.
This is demonstrated in recent research from PwC, which indicates that women’s jobs could be affected by automation over the next decade - with potentially 23percent of women’s jobs at risk, around 7percent more than men.
At a crucial time when the world is discussing and designing the way AI will change the way we work, the higher risk of displacement felt by certain members of society must be made more visible and addressed alongside the serious skills shortage we are seeing in the tech sector among women.
Given the near-limitless application of this technology, touching all areas of the business, consumer and industrial worlds, ensuring that AI doesn’t perpetuate the bias that humans share is the only way that we will realise the maximum benefits it offers.
We now need to focus on increasing access to career opportunities, skills and encouraging women from all backgrounds to consider the doors that AI will open for their future. Now is the perfect time for any woman to get involved - here are five reasons why:
If you’ve ever used predictive search on Google, asked Siri about the weather, or requested that Alexa play your favourite song - then you’ve used AI.
Bias is our greatest threat and will only slow progress.
While the design of famous AI personas like Alexa and Siri are heavily gendered towards female stereotypes, women engineers remain a rare occurrence in the overall talent pool of engineers creating them today.
This is a serious problem that needs to be fixed if we want to realise the greatest scientific and economic benefits of the technology - and this starts in schools and at home. We need to show our girls from the get-go that no career is out of their reach.
Moreover, AI needs to be built to reflect the diversity of its users.
Women and men work, live and think differently - we need to capture as many different perspectives as possible to produce a high-quality product with maxi-mum potential.
And let’s remember this isn’t just a gender issue. We need to think broader and ensure our machines are learning about ethnicity, race, language, skin colour, and age - all the things that make us unique.
As someone who builds AI applications like Pegg every day, I have been privileged to work alongside some of the greatest minds in the AI industry - many of whom are women.
We have a wealth of fantastic role models, but unfortunately the narrative up until now has been heavily dominated by one gender.
This influences the assumption that there is limited opportunity for young girls to pursue a path in this field, which is totally untrue.
We need to challenge these damaging perceptions.
I am passionate about making AI a transformative and productivity enhancing revolution for all.
However, the biggest hurdle standing in our way is building machines that don’t truly represent the entire human race.
That’s why, here at Sage, we created the pioneering code of ethics, helping businesses to follow five key guidelines when working with AI.
It covers everything from how to name virtual assistants to building diverse data sets that help companies make hiring decisions when gender is taken out of the equation.
If we commit to a common goal to include more diversity in all aspects of the design, programming and deployment of AI - I think that this technology has the potential to transform the way we do business and live our lives for the better, every day. And everyone deserves to benefit from it.
Kriti Sharma is the vice-president of AI at Sage.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
- BUSINESS REPORT