The lack of diversity within artificial intelligence is pushing the field to a dangerous “tipping point,” according to new research from the AI Now Institute. It says that due to an overwhelming proportion of white males in the field, the technology is at risk of perpetuating historical biases and power imbalances.
The consequences of this issue are well documented, from hate speech-spewing chatbots to racial bias in facial recognition. The report says that these failings — attributed to a lack of diversity within the AI sector — have created a “moment of reckoning.” Report author Kate Crawford said that the industry needs to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and that the use of AI systems for classification, detection and predication of race and gender “is in urgent need of re-evaluation.”
Indeed, the report found that more than 80 percent of AI professors are men — a figure that reflects a wider problem across the computer science landscape. In 2015 women comprised only 24 percent of the computer and information sciences workforce. Meanwhile, only 2.5 percent of Google’s employees are black, with Facebook and Microsoft each reporting an only marginally higher four percent. Data on trans employees and other gender minorities is almost non-existent. (read more)