Diversity Crisis in the AI Industry

As of right now, the artificial intelligence industry is under fire as there is an apparent diversity crisis. In the industry, women and people of colour are highly underrepresented. A report from the AI Now Institute has found out about 80 percent of AI professors are men. Women only make up a measly 10 percent of the working place at google. At Facebook, while slightly better, woman only make up 15 percent of the research in the artificial intelligence field. The report also indicates that people of colour are also underrepresented, making up only a small percentage of working employees at some of the biggest tech firms. The diversity crisis is a result of a workforce that is more often that not driven by white and male perspectives.

Plans to improve the problem by fixing the recruitment stages of potential job candidates has largely failed. Researches from the institute stated that “despite many decades of ‘pipeline studies’ that assess the flow of diverse job candidates from school to industry, there has been no substantial progress in diversity in the AI industry.” The researchers suggested improvements for the problem. They said that companies should make an effort to clearly communicate and be more transparent by publishing more data on compensation, broken down by race and gender, and by publishing harassment and discrimination transparency reports.

AI industry is under fire with claims from researches suggesting there is a lack of diversity in the industry.

AI industry is under fire with claims from researches suggesting there is a lack of diversity in the industry.

Diversity issues introduces specific dangers in the artificial intelligence field, where technology that is deemed as potentially biased such as facial recognition, can disproportionately affect historically marginalised groups. Co-director of the AI Now Institute, Kate Crawford said that “we need to know that these systems are safe as well as fair.”

Employees within the artificial intelligence field have given their stance on major AI issues, encouraging their companies to review the use of sensitive tools that could potentially cause more harm than good to vulnerable groups. Workers at Amazon have even gone as far as to questioning executives about the company’s facial recognition product. One of the biggest tech giants on the planet, Google, has pushed workers back against an AI review board that included the president of the Heritage Foundation. They considered the group’s history of lobbying against LGBTQ rights. The company then dissolved the board entirely.

With the artificial intelligence industry becoming one of the most talked about and growing industries in the modern day and age, strong emphasis needs to be put on providing minority groups and people of colour with equal opportunities to pursue careers in these fields.

In some of the biggest tech corporations on the planet, woman account for less than twenty percent of the workforce.

In some of the biggest tech corporations on the planet, woman account for less than twenty percent of the workforce.

Zacharia Sharif