There is a critical need for female gender participation in overall artificial intelligence creation and development. This article is Part 2 of a 2 part series. Here is Part 1.
Considering all the exciting information and news about the relevance and imminent take-over of artificial intelligence, it is important to also consider a germane factor that will influence operations of the technology, overall. The insignificant level of female participation in AI development continues to be an issue of concern. The implication of this for AI, should this level remain so low, is that the essential feminine blending required for augmenting our everyday activities would be effectively non-existent in the technology. Hence, if this trend is not adjusted, the pervasion of AI could be interpreted as a takeover of the world, by the male gender. This would be devastating; we cannot exclude the significance of feminine input.
An inquiry on the list of top AI experts and industry influencers reveals a rather non-ideal trend: They are all men! This calls for our attention and the need to bridge the AI gender gap as a way of fostering a solid landing for the technology.
Top AI experts revolutionizing the field include:
- Geoffrey Hinton
- Dag Kittlaus
- Ray Kurzweil
- Yann LeCun
- Andrew Ng
- Stuart J Russell
- Jürgen Schmidhuber
- Richard Sutton
According to data provided from a basic Google Search most of the top 20 companies that are winning the game in artificial intelligence have paraded male CEOs! Thus, it’s no surprise that AI technologies have been produced and marketed mostly by men.
Again, when we look into the statistics, these men are primarily from the United States. This leads us to questions like: “Is this helping the industry? Is having similar people producing AI technologies going to help the whole of humanity in the long run?”
“We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges,” says Tim Berners-Lee. If AI is to become pervasive and used to tackle important challenges in the world, then it also must be open to diversity.
Having diverse viewpoints in the AI industry is important because it will lead to different ideas, innovations and outcomes for the technology and its significant impact on our daily lives. However, if the producers aren’t diverse, it will be a challenge for the AI to resonate well with a diverse market having users from different background and dispositions.
If we must make use of AI technology and enjoy all its possible benefits, there must be a balanced reasoning input that comes from both genders. Note that aside from the outlined innate disadvantages that could come from the pervasion of AI, a framework that lacks diversity of opinion, is expected to turn out even more disastrous.
Furthermore, a diverse opinionated AI sector would imply an interesting, non-stereotyped sector. This is important for growth as there would be different levels of ingenuity to make it more appealing, aside from the fact that this would go a long way in creating a fair balance in the space.
How can we bring more females into AI development and management?
The next point of action to remove gender bias in AI creation is to fashion ways for more females to actively participate. There are a number of means by which this can be achieved that will cater to the future when AI finally goes substantially pervasive.
Some suggested approaches to bridging the AI gender gap for girls are the following:
- Adopting a ‘catch them young approach’
It is believed that an early introduction of the rudiments of AI to girls at a tender age would help develop their interest and passion to follow through with understanding the AI concepts and operations. Hence, stakeholders and concerned individuals have suggested that parents be more intentional in exposing their girl-child to interesting details about the technology to provoke curiosity. For instance, cartoons and animations from age five may be made to contain exciting leads to AI so that they are more apt to grasp the concept and importance of it out the gate.
- Creating dedicated artificial intelligence colleges for females
Over the years, it is discovered that one of the most viable means of getting increased women’s participation in a supposed noble cause is to get them to attend a school dedicated for women interested in that field. The creation of dedicated colleges where AI would be solely taught is a welcome idea. This kind of institution is sure to attract persons from different parts of the world and would be pivotal to raising the number of female technocrats in no time. Analysts have suggested technological societies and organizations that work to create sustainable educative institutions that are genuinely purpose-driven will help. These educative facilities should also be made largely accessible, by providing a low or free tuition fee structure. This is germane, otherwise only a few persons may essentially be able to access the services of the schools, hence watering down the program’s original intentions.
- Encouraging women in workplaces to learn coding, AI, etc.
Now, it is observed that women’s participation in general technology needs to substantially increase, compared to what is currently obtainable. Women in various workplaces around the world should be educated on the advantages and importance of getting involved in technology creation and development. Organizations and business fronts can help the situation by sponsoring their female staff on scheduled courses, where rudimentary and advanced AI can be taught. When provisions like these are made, the numbers are bound to rise by some percentage points.
- Current female AI technocrats must be encouraged and placed in leadership roles
Although female participation in AI development is yet low, there are still a few who have distinguished themselves and shown that the feminine gender can hold their own in the space. For instance, there’s:
- Trina Van Pelt (VP of Intel and Senior Managing Director of AI and Autonomous Driving at Intel Capital)
- Justyna Zander (Nvidia’s Global Head of Mapping and Autonomous Driving)
- Fei Fei Li (Professor at Stanford University’s Computer Science Department)
There are others, and they should be encouraged to take up more challenges by being overseers of AI inclined institutions and projects. This action may in turn encourage other women to personally take up challenges in starting their own AI projects. In fact, this would work well in removing the belief in some quarters, suggesting that women are basically not fit for such responsibilities.
When these and other proactive steps by those in relevant positions are taken to ensure the AI gender gap bridge, there will be balance in sight. Only then can we conveniently say that the world is truly prepared for the coming pervasion. However, to ensure that there are no mistakes and regrets in the future, it’s important that there are immediate implementations of the additions and adjustments. My vision of the world is to see an egalitarian society at large, starting with the AI sector, a most critical one for us to shape in our day and age!
By Taarini Kaur Dang