Technology, Politics, Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, Bias and Women!

By Mona Sabet

Lately I’ve been on a mission to get event organizers (be they corporations, industry associations or various firms) to appreciate the abundance of women with incredible expertise in a variety of trending topics that are available to speak at their often male dominated conferences.

As I sit here at the 7th annual ChIPs Global Summit and look out at the 500 women in attendance and speaking, I believe we’ve accidentally built a roster of 500 women speakers that could blow away any panel in their area of expertise!

But this short post isn’t about the continuing frustration I have with the lack of creativity and effort of conference organizers in getting women on the stage.

This is a short highlight post of this Summit‘s first morning session, covering discussions on The Future of Technology and Politics, and Ethics in Artificial Intelligence.

The Future of Technology and Politics

Sarita Venkat led this ridiculously distinguished panel with Jamie GorelickKaren Dunn and Juleanna Glover.

At last year’s Summit, this panel predicted that if tech companies didn’t start self-regulating, D.C. would step in. Who knew this illustrious group of women could also see the future!

One year later, the gulf between technology industry participants and political participants is still yawning. How do you get alignment between the many politicians who want to regulate the Googles and Facebooks of the world like public utilities and tech industry participants who are adamant that doing that would have disastrous consequences to our society? The panel called for more education and more moderation. Those are two words that I don’t think get nearly enough cred in our world today.

The takeaway – get involved in these discussions – get educated and then get involved in groups to help increase the level of educated discussion among decision makers. Because honestly, do we really want Washington drafting comprehensive omnibus legislation about how tech companies should be regulated when Congress asks Mark Zuckerberg questions like “Is Twitter the same as what you do?”

Ethics in Artificial Intelligence

I felt a heavy weight on me after the first panel. Luckily, the next mainstage presentation was about Ethics in Artificial Intelligence – nice light topic.

Annette Hurst led this second ChIPs panel with Michelle LeeCaroline Pinkston and Terah Lyons.

This is a topic near to my heart having led a company that build a machine learning app in a previous life, and now working with startups using AI to help build the self-driving car economy. So I drank my second cup of coffee and took notes.

From this illustrious panel, I learned that some economists predict that AI technology will double growth rates by 2035, which won’t just affect our economy but will radically transform our society. And while we’ve gone through an industrial revolution before, this one is happening much faster and is going to have an even larger impact.

There were many concerns expressed.

1.      As much as people like Terah Lyons and the Partnership on AI are trying, we are challenged in acting fast enough to prevent further fracturing between the creators and the users of AI technology, and the inequality that results.

2.      We’ve barely begun to address how we manage aligning our human values with AI recommendations. If a self-driving car finds itself in a situation where it needs to make a split-second decision between harming someone inside the car or harming a pedestrian, how will it make that decision? And who should be regulating how it makes those decisions?

3.      While the AI ecosystem has identified high level goals of achieving fair, accountable and transparent AI, corporations seek IP protection over their AI systems. How can we balance that tension?

4.      And of course, how do we continue to bring to light all the biases that today’s AI systems have already demonstrated and regulate the field (if regulation is even appropriate) so that we don’t allow AI to amplify the biases we are working so hard to eradicate.

Had to laugh when Annette Hurst noted that just last week Amazon scrapped its internal AI recruiting tool because, after feeding it all the data on its past hires, it essentially discovered that it hired mostly men!

The day continues with talks on The Future of Work, Catching Up with Blockchain, Personalized Medicine, and a Pitch Perfect session with women founders and judges (which I’m honored to be part of), as well as topics on Negotiating for Yourself, Mixing Friendship and Business, and D&I Intentionality.  I’ll sleep this weekend.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.