To prevent artificial intelligence (AI) being biased in the future, the teams in charge of developing them need to be more diverse, experts told the audience at the 2018 Everywoman in Technology Forum.
Speakers and Panel Members at the forum explained the importance of encouraging more women and minority groups into the technology industry to ensure current stereotypes in the sector are not derived by the technology it generally develops.
Yen-Sze Soon, MD, Accenture said that it is already beginning to happen as AI developed. She claimed that women need to help in developing AI to put themselves 'front and center of tomorrow's world', rather than being forced to use technology. Then, they are not part of designing or developing it.
"Women need to take part in this change otherwise social stereotypes will continue," she added. There is a long history of products unfit for their target because they were developed and tested by a small subsection of society.
Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of AI community CognitionX, mentioned some examples including women dying in more car accidents in the 90s because crash test dummies were only designed to male specifications, adverts showing men higher paid jobs than women. Also, Apple's Health app originally tracked everything except for a woman's menstrual cycle.
"This is only going to be exacerbated by AI," she said, adding that if women are not involved in building these new technologies, such situations will continue occurring and result in being the "everyday norms".
Maxine Benson, co-founder of Everywoman, claimed that the jobs most likely to avoid automation, such as those which require adaptability, changeability, communication and collaboration, will provide women with better opportunities as women are more prone to having these skills than men.
"These are all skills that women possess in abundance," she added.
According to Suki Fuller, founder of Miribure, many firms are increasingly looking to fill roles with candidates having technical and soft skills -'skills that machines will not be able to have'
People are still learning to empathize with each other in an artificially intelligent world just as important as developing emotionally intelligent teams to program as well as develop human-facing AI.
Fuller said that men are usually lacking in that mega-empathic skill; women are in a good position to enter the AI world.
"The human aspect, the empathy, the tacit, everything that is the human aspect that quite frankly women seem to have more of, that will be your strength," she said.
Regardless of whether women are better at developing the soft skills that will be important for the future of AI, this industry still struggles to attract females. Many believe targeting people from a younger age could help eliminating reasons for females to avoid the tech industry, including the teacher and parent stereotyping.
Karen Gill, co-founder of Everywoman, stated that being able to see women in senior positions in an organization is the single most important change, Everywoman members would like to see in this industry.
"When a woman is able to look up and see what they can be, it can do wonderful things for them," she said. "Whatever your age or experience, you are a role model for someone ahead or behind you", she further adds.
Many of the experts for the day suggested the age-old saying "you can't be what you can't see" to demonstrate how important it is to be visible and do your job to encourage change in the industry.
Melissa Di Donato, chief revenue officer of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, claimed that she didn't realize how few and far between women in the industry were until "about six years ago" and that if she had realized it sooner she would have done a lot more to try to encourage diversity in the firms she had worked in.
"At every level of your career you are a role model. Even when you don't realize you're a role model, you are," she concluded.