Triple A: Affirmative Action for Algorithms
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Gender:
A concrete Call to Action
We are at a critical turning point. In order to innovate and thrive in a rapidly changing global environment, new norms are needed. The “standardized male” is the default of flawed systems and cultural standards that currently control how we live and work – defaults so normalized we don’t even notice. From 20th century drug trials, international standards and global trading rules, to 21st century algorithmic decision making and machine learning systems, this default has proven to harm people – and the bottom line. In fact, democracy itself is in peril. We must establish new norms.
Our focus is women and girls in all their intersections and forms. Because there has been systematic exclusion of women in defining the old rules of the system – and the continuing exclusion of women in defining the new rules - we must activate a new coalition to advocate for strategic and innovative thinking in laws, regulations and norms to achieve gender equality and strengthen democracy in the new systems we create. Women – an essential and untapped resource – with the power to reshape our society’s systems must be influentially involved in all levels of decision-making, so change can happen now, before old norms and stereotypes are baked into the machine learning systems of the future.
Particularly urgent given the scale at which ADM systems and machine learning are being deployed, we need Affirmative Action for Algorithms, to correct real life bias and barriers that prevent women from achieving their full participation and rights in the present, and in the future we invent.
As Marshall McLuhan is famously quoted, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”
This is our immediate challenge. We must establish new tools, and new norms, for lasting institutional and cultural systems change now and for the century beyond. This concerns all corners of the world. It is crucial that we focus on gender equality and democracy for both women and men, now. Then everyone can thrive. We must leave no one behind.
We call on Governments, Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations to:
1. ADVOCATE FOR AND ADOPT GUIDELINES THAT ESTABLISH ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY FOR ALGORITHMIC DECISION-MAKING (ADM) IN BOTH THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR.
We must ensure machine learning does not embed an already biased system into all our futures.
Call To Action:
2. TAKE CLEAR PROACTIVE STEPS TO INCLUDE AN INTERSECTIONAL VARIETY AND EQUAL NUMBERS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN THE CREATION, DESIGN AND CODING OF ADM.
New technologies offer new opportunities including the creation of genuinely new structures that require new ideas and new teams.
Gender roles being removed from the real world are being baked into new ADM with the old and stereotypical conceptions and associations of gender, race and class.
Innovative and inclusive thinking are necessary.
This imagination and skill can be provided by the largest untapped intellectual resource on the planet – women and girls.
Call To Action:
3. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND AN APPROACH TO ADM AND MACHINE LEARNING GROUNDED IN HUMAN RIGHTS.
Mass scale correction of skewed data systems will require multilateral and international cooperation to ensure we leave no one behind.
Call To Action:
Women at the Table
Call To Action delivered at the Women in Big Data Conference
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