Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The women who fight so that artificial intelligence does not have a patriarchal bias

The artificial intelligence (AI) Is it neutral or does it reflect the biases of those who code it? The correct answer is the second, but its effects can be prevented. That wants to achieve Unesco on gender with a new network of women tech experts and ethicists challenging the threat of a patriarchal AI.

“Artificial intelligence, which is often seen as falling out of the blue, is a technology that is being developed by human beings, that is reproducing the biases, the gaps and the inequalities that exist in the real world and exacerbating them”, explains Gabriela Ramos, Unesco’s Deputy Director General of Social and Human Sciences, to EFE.

Ramos co-chairs, together with Alessandra Sala, director of AI and Data Science at Shutterstock, the new platform Women4Ethical AIborn from the efforts of the UN agency for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco) to provide an ethical framework for new digital technologies.

Others work alongside them. 17 experts from academia, civil society, the private sector and regulatory bodies around the world. Their goal is to support the efforts of governments and companies so that women are equitably represented in both the design of AI and its results.

“(The platform) gives us a voice to say all these things out loud,” Sala told EFE, while Ramos promises that this will not be “they making noise on one side” and they, “the serious ones”, working for the other.

On a practical level, Women4Ethical AI will encourage, for example, that algorithms and their data sources do not underrepresent girls, women and other groups, that there are audits and that the efforts of companies and governments are noted.

“It is not that the technologies discriminate, is that they have been trained to discriminate. And they have been trained to discriminate because we are not aware of how to build them in an inclusive way (…) You ask the ChatGPT describe a woman to me and she describes her at home, and they describe men to you as successful reaching the Moon”, exemplifies Ramos, originally from Mexico.


Currently, worldwide according to Unesco, women and girls they are 25% less likely than men to know how to use digital technology for basic purposes, 4 times less likely to know how to program computers and 13 times less likely to apply for an ICT patent.

In artificial intelligence, only 26% of the labour in the sector are women and only 12% of them research they are expertly made.

“There are fewer women in the sector of information technologies than in engineering and science, which was usually an area in which everyone said ‘we need more women,’” Ramos insists.

Sala defies that rule, as does Arisa Ema, a teacher at the University of Tokyo; Elena Estavillo, founder of the Center-I for the Society of the Future; o Elisabeth Renieris, a researcher specializing in AI ethics associated with the University of Oxford.

“We are a long way from where we should be. The good news is that women are incredible, we have a curiosity What makes us the best data analysts, we ask questions. You ask a man and they give you a standard answer,” says the director of AI and Data Science at Shutterstock.

But the Chamber itself, despite its impressive resume, claims that it could never have had the same opportunities if your profile had to be selected by an AI.

“We have seen failures dramatic patterns of models that were designed by very small classes of human beings”, explains Sala.

This is the case, for example, of an AI tool from job recruitment designed for Amazon that did not perceive women as successful candidates.

Despite the difficult battle, they are not, however, pessimistic. In fact, Ramos believes that “the current is changing” and there is already awareness that the “laissez faire” system as an excuse to feed innovation causes too much damage.

“The battle is over the rules of the game, what are the rules of the game and who is the ‘referee’ (referee). The algorithm? Well no, you can’t,” Sala stresses.


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