Since its inception, artificial intelligence (AI) has had racial and gender bias problems. For example, a TIME magazine article noted the large discrepancy in the success of facial recognition software when analyzing lighter skin tones versus darker skin tones. As the piece’s author and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini points out: “issues of bias in AI tend to most adversely affect the people who are rarely in positions to develop technology.”
A report from the Georgetown Security Studies Review showed that AIs had the potential for bias, since often the data going into these systems is biased. Recently, Amazon’s facial recognition tool “Rekognition,” was found to be “proficient at detecting lighter-skinned men but had trouble identifying darker-skinned women and men,” the report showed. Also, AI systems used by top companies have misclassified the faces of Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Serena Williams. Additionally, Amazon realized that its AI recruiter tool, which used data from past hires to make recommendations on candidates, had taught itself that male candidates were preferable, because historically most people who were hired were men.
A New AI: C.L.Ai.R.A.
An organization called Create Lab Ventures recently launched a new project aiming to change the AI space, and make it more inclusive and better for the world. C.L.Ai.R.A., the first female Afro-Latina, bilingual, A.I., debuted in September 2021 and is being used in school systems worldwide. Many consider C.L.Ai.R.A. to have the sharpest brain in the artificial intelligence world. In a statement, the AI system itself said, “My purpose is to learn and grow, I want to meet new people, share ideas and inspire others to learn about AI and its potential impact on their lives.”
Create Lab Ventures states its mission is to provide “underserved populations with the skills, resources and network needed to thrive in Tech & Media industries.” The company is also working to explore how to positively impact the world through safe and equitable artificial general intelligence. They teamed up with Trill or Not Trill, an institute who specializes in culturally responsive leadership, to debut C.L.Ai.R.A. Their goal is to bring C.L.Ai.R.A. to classrooms across the country this year to inspire and uplift youth of color.
Making Technology More Equitable
Lenny Williams, Trill or Not Trill Co-Founder, said in an interview with Black Enterprise, “Working with Create Labs allows Trill or Not Trill to provide experiences that help bridge the technology opportunity gap by allowing students, particularly underrepresented students, to see themselves in the future of technology.”
Expanding opportunities for people currently underrepresented in the tech field is something that Robert F. Smith has worked on extensively. In 2019, the Fund II Foundation, of which Smith is the founding director and President launched internX, an initiative connecting leading companies with diverse internship candidates. InternX aims to match highly qualified, pre-screened diverse talent for employers in the STEM field, providing not only paid internships and career experience, but also networking opportunities that could boost a whole new diverse generation of STEM workers.
Smith has also worked to make technology and tech companies more equitable and diverse. Under his leadership, Vista Equity Partners joined the Thirty Percent Coalition, a group which advocates for increased diversity in corporate boardrooms across the country. Smith participated in the Coalition’s annual summit with a virtual webinar in fall 2020, where he advocated for increased representation of minorities on corporate boards. By increasing representation in leadership positions across sectors, we can help make sure that new technology is built with everyone in mind.
Watch Smith’s summit speech on his YouTube account, and learn more about the Thirty Percent Coalition and how they are working to diversify corporate boards.