As technology develops it takes society forward and affects how we live, work and socialize. In order to achieve sustainable technological development that benefits the entire society, diversity in both thoughts and perspective is required. Half of the population is female (yes, it is true!), but in the technology industry we are heavily underrepresented, which means that our perspective - along with the perspectives of other underrepresented groups - often is excluded.
At the Women in Tech conference that took place on International Women's Day, hundreds of women gathered to talk about technology and the future. One topic that was raised during several of the lectures was the fact that a large part of today's technology is based on those who make it - which often are men - and several of the lecturers gave concrete examples of problems with underrepresentation of social groups in the technology industry.
Joy Buolamwini, who calls herself a poet of code and is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, presented results from her research on MIT Media Lab. She had investigated the most prominent facial recognition systems available today and looked into their performance when it came to identifying women and men of different skin color. Unsurprisingly, the systems were really good at recognizing white men, while they failed to distinguish dark-skinned women's faces. She calls this phenomenon "the coded gaze" and argues that this technology is based on unfair exclusion, which in turn can lead to discrimination.
Danica Kragic, who is a researcher within robotics at KTH, also raised the importance of different perspectives among technology developers. She claimed that we soon will see more and more robots in society, a technology area where artificial intelligence will be significant. If we want to knock some kind of ethics and morals into our robots to make sure we can trust that they make the right decisions in different situations, it is important that all groups can contribute with their experience so that the robots can represent our opinions and choices.
Our mission as a technology company should therefore be to increase inclusion and diversity as much as possible. In addition, we must show that we are working actively to improve gender equality in order to retain and employ more women in our workplace. "We must all take our responsibility and take part" as a lecturer said, and ensure that technology is introduced and used in society with responsibility and sustainability.
Johanna Nordlöf, Kajsa Elfström
Software developers in embedded systems
- Natural thoughts about AI
The image of this post originates from Bredda Bilden, an image bank to complement the image of technology.
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