Sophia vs Sexism and Reclaiming A.I from the Hoodies, Enabling Vs Inhibiting Technology – Diversity Marketing Special!

Image: Reuters +

The public’s perception of artificial intelligence runs the spectrum from excitement to unknowing to downright confusion. As humanity enters the age of artificial intelligence, capturing the essence and impact of “it” in a blog post is impossible. There has been too much good and bad written about it already that we can practically put together an anthology!

I will not get into the endless chatter on A.I.’s pros and cons here. A.I. is a technology enabler and in diversity marketing it not only harnesses the power of data through predictive analytics, but also help companies to be more proactive than corrective – being ready to face pitfalls traversing through fluctuating consumer behavior and also help them create products that match up to common sense definitions of goodness of a diverse cohort who connect with the product deeply and emotionally. 

To the consumer at large, A.I. can help in distinguishing between products that actually offer value as they claim to provide vs the products that are fraudulent and driven by greed.
But A.I. like many technologies that are enabling humanity to reach its greatest potential has a limitation that is impossible to override – and that lies in its Creation.

It’s like machine learning, it is in a constant process of acquiring learning from humans that can be applied to drive radical changes in our world. It can gain insights on human emotional intelligence, become empathetic at some stage of its evolution.

However, like anything that’s created, A.I. too has a solid imprint of its creator and in the hands that wield that power-. It’s beginning to look, think and act like them! Whether it will evolve and become all-pervading and unassuming remains to be seen in our ever growing complex operating environment.

For now, I trust every word spoken and so quoting Melinda Gates:

“You often hear the big challenge is teaching machines to think and behave more like humans but I can’t help but think we should be more specific,” she said. “We don’t want to teach computers racism or sexism. Or selfishness or greed. We want to teach computers the very best of what humanity has to offer. And for that to happen. We need the people building A.I. to represent not just one small slice of the human experience. But all genders. All ethnicities.”

The statement above cannot be more accurate in the creation of Sophia the humanoid.
There is nothing wrong with Sophia as such. Let us peep into Hanson Robotics Website and Sophia’s description:: "Designed to look like Audrey Hepburn, Sophia embodies Hepburn’s classic beauty: porcelain skin, a slender nose, high cheekbones, an intriguing smile, and deeply expressive eyes that seem to change color with the light."

Very good! But isn’t this an image of beauty as seen and assumed to be befitting - a more specific visualization of a handful of hoodies Or, is it a generic sentiment of a much diverse cohort? Is this the definition of beauty by a few Or, the larger whole? Especially in the wake of movements like MeToo, Women's March, from complacency with the sexist patriarchy to defiance against it. Are the implications of the obvious sexism trickling into how A.I. is being induced to evolve?

More on this sentiment: 

How artificial intelligence learns to be racist

Simple: It’s mimicking us.

I adore Audrey Hepburn. But, please explain porcelain skin, a slender nose, high cheekbones? – Isn't this textbook machismo? A textbook definition of objectifying and stereotyping what is perceived to be beautiful and the result of lack of diversity of thought in writing that description!

You know what’s even more ironical?

That Sophia the humanoid is granted citizenship of a country that is not one of the best examples of pluralism and diversity within Islam and especially for limiting the rights of women and cultural inclusion. Is Sophia expected to be the voice of “Moderation” and the country’s transition to liberalization and avoidance of excess or extremes?

More on Diversity and the AI conundrum. Can AI really solve Diversity challenges?

On Emerging Tech like AI, there has been mass adoption of AI-based recruiting systems by organizations the world over. Sadly the emphasis is on replacing the human interaction and not on amplifying human capabilities.

I was unfortunately associated (as a bridge between AI Systems and Diversity) with some organizations that wanted to replace human intervention altogether in the guise of objective-oriented recruiting methodology. I realized their folly and was quick to dump them.

An interesting insight on Hiring bias: AI system in professional & social networking integrators are promoting all sorts of hiring discrimination instead of limiting bias, the AI-based systems are fueling it. The insight states that employers deliberately use the emerging Tech intending to do micro-targeting i.e. essentially accessing /getting into the feeds of only a select few and making the job invisible to a few based on their differences and the inability to have all ticks in their proverbial boxes.

Another interesting insight on Hiring bias: Job Ads by leading job boards are promoting age discrimination than limiting it? The insight states that employers are deliberately posting jobs that intend to do micro-targeting i.e. essentially getting into the feeds of select few (and younger!)picked by A.I. and making the job posting invisible to a few based on a supplied checklist to deliberately exclude professionals that don't match an "established criteria".


To me personally, A.I. is bringing an idea synthesis - where innovation happens at the points of intersection of humanity and technology, leading to a rapid adaptability.We can either use AI to amplify our abilities, or our limitations - which points to a rigid dichotomy between technology and humanity!

-Amit Anand