For AI to truly be the technology of the future, the diversity conversation in AI needs to extend beyond the bounds of today's typical DEI discussion.
Having diverse (in this case meaning women and people of colour) voices in AI is as important or more important than the inclusion of diverse voices in media, in politics, in finance, or in any other field. While it doesn’t replace the need for diverse thought leadership in these fields, it may certainly help shape the conversations in these fields in the future.
It seems that people generally think of mega-LLMs (like Open AI’s Chat GPT) as a microcosm of the conversations happening in the real world, and they’re not wrong to think that way. However, I think that as time goes on and ethical groundwork is developed for AI, it will be important for diverse voices to help determine what AI can and can’t do.
Diversity Beyond the Typical DEI Conversation
It will be important for diverse voices to shape this conversation, as opposed to the way diversity is often framed nowadays within the the typical government committee, group of CEOs or NGO board. A truly diverse group can’t be contained in a boardroom, as true diversity goes beyond the typical “equity” conversations of race, gender, belief, or sexuality, but extends to conversations about economics, shared and unshared experience, thought, culture, and philosophy. This is why even with a diversity coordinator to remind middle management or the C-suite how to move, it’s tough to create a truly diverse conversation in a boardroom with only 7 or 12 people. For some reason, even the smartest, most educated people in the world can’t grasp this, and this is why so much of “diversity” to this date has looked like tokenism.
Want an example? Even in a group as large as our congress in the USA, diversity is a somewhat nascent concept, and “embracing diversity” seems to have transformed the congress into some sort of nihilistic groupthink. The conversations that take place there aren't a reflection of diverse and nuanced opinions, but rather team play and agenda- although I doubt anyone could expect more (or less) anyway. But that’s another conversation for another day.
So what does this mean? Diverse voices must be highly educated and opinionated on AI and all its associated technologies, and these voices must strive to be vocal about what the philosophy behind or in front of AI should be. True, at this point, AI is an entity that multiplies whatever someone puts into it- if someone’s intentions are good, AI will create good. If someone’s intentions are bad or evil, AI will create evil from those intentions. But if we strive to make AI’s users into Platonic “philosopher-kings” instead of nihilists, it wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Shameless plug: This is where we plug our own efforts in adding some diversity to the AI conversation in the South Florida area, including Aiducation.ai, which hosts classes and seminars for developers, professionals, and entrepreneurs.
Splash Image Prompt: "Create an image illustrating the significance of diverse voices in the field of AI. Image must be abstract, high resolution and in 16:9 aspect ratio"