Discrimination in the AI Industry Contributes to Discriminatory AI Systems

A new report from New York University’s AI Now Institute titled Discriminating Systems: Gender, Race and Power in AI highlights the diversity crisis in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector and its effect on the development of AI systems with gender and racial biases. 

The lack of diversity in the AI sector and academia spans across gender and race. Recent studies show that women comprise only 15 percent of AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google. Women make up 18 percent of authors at leading AI conferences, while more than 80 percent of AI professors are men. Representation of other minorities is also sparse. Only 2.5 percent of Google’s workforce is black, while this is true of 4 percent for both Facebook and Microsoft. 

According to researchers, AI’s lack of diversity extends past the underrepresentation of women and other minority groups to power structures and the creation and use of various AI systems. Most of all, the report suggests that historical discrimination in the AI sector needs to be addressed in tandem with biases found in AI systems. 
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Current Corporate Management Diversity

The diversity of business owners strengthens our nation as their unique perspectives are woven into their businesses, communities, and local and regional economies. However, our nation’s rich diversity still is not reflected in the leadership of companies that sell us products and services and ask us to invest. What a loss.

The Status Quo
Today in the United States, women make up 51 percent of the population. We are 13 percent African American, 18 percent Latino, and six percent Asian Pacific Islander. Yet, here it is 2018, and I am only the 10th woman ever elected to statewide office in California – the most ethnically diverse and most progressive state in the nation. The lack of diversity among our elected officials is woefully apparent. However, behind the doors of board rooms and C-suites across the country, corporations are failing to integrate diversity, and decisions are made without the range of perspectives that differing backgrounds bring.

According to McKinsey & Company, a staggering 45 percent of executive teams in the U.S. do not include one non-white member. Only about three percent of senior executive teams actually reflect the diverse make-up of our population. Fewer than one percent of Fortune 500 board directors are openly LGBT.

Equally disturbing is the divide between the way male and female directors view diversity. A PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that 80 percent of women agreed “very much” that diversity leads to more effective boards, compared to just 40 percent of men.

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