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Artificial intelligence and diversity

Machines think like their creators: unconscious biases in artificial intelligence

Presentación de Cristina Aranda en el Open Power Space de Endesa
Cristina Aranda's Presentation at the Endesa Open Power Space

"He who dominates artificial intelligence will dominate the world." Cristina Aranda, an expert in the application of natural language in artificial intelligence (AI), is categorical when she talks about this technology. Aranda is responsible for business development at Taiger , an artificial intelligence company specialised in knowledge automation natural language processing, who visited our headquarters in Madrid to talk about unconscious biases in AI. 

AI is a part of our daily lives; from the maps we use on our mobile phones to the suggestions we get for new content from music or video apps. The algorithms on which these tools are not neutral, because they reflect the unconscious biases of their creators. And eight out of ten AI creators are straight white men with a Judeo-Christian cultural background. 

“Our own biases and the lack of multi-disciplinarity and diversity in the teams that develop these technologies are some of the great challenges of AI.”

Cristina Aranda, head of business development at Taiger

The lack of diversity at the origin of AI can have a very negative impact on the most vulnerable sectors of society, because the interests of the most powerful sectors will always prevail. Therefore, experts like Aranda do work which can be characterised as activism, because it promotes diversity in the field of technology to ensure that the works working on AI include diversity of identity, knowledge and, above all, that their creations have a positive impact on society.

Cristina Aranda en el Open Power Space de Endesa
Cristina Aranda's Presentation at the Endesa Open Power Space

One of the shortcomings of the technology sector is the minimal presence of women in work teams and in decision-making areas. That is why Aranda is especially active in promoting female talent in the world of science and technology. As co-founder of Mujeres Tech, an association of communities in the technology sector that seeks to awaken and enhance female talent, she wants to make "this society more inclusive, productive and collaborative by integrating more women in the digital sector." 

Currently, the average percentage of female programmers in companies such as Twitter, Google or Facebook is 15%. And only 29 in every 1,000 women graduate with science degrees. There is a long way to go to achieve real equality in the technological field. But there is also good news: humanities profiles such as that of Aranda, who has a degree in Hispanic philology, have already reached the world of technology and their role is far from secondary. Artificial intelligence can give machines cognitive abilities and for this to happen we need linguists, philosophers, historians, sociologists, etc. to complement the technical vision of engineers and computer scientists to create algorithms that will help to create a better world. For everyone. 

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