Educators' perspective

The realm of artificial intelligence (AI) has not only ushered in ground-breaking possibilities for innovation but has also cast a revealing light on the persistent shadows of gender biases. At the recent ‘HeForShe’ Summit organized by UN Women in New York, leaders from both public and private sectors engaged in a crucial dialogue on the potential risks associated with AI and the imperative of developing this technology responsibly.

UN Women’s HeForShe Summit is seen in New York. At the summit, leaders discussed artificial intelligence and factors that are shaping dominant narratives around masculinity today. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.

Bloomberg journalist Leonardo Nicoletti (second from left) speaks about bias in AI at the HeForShe Summit. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown.

The Echo of Bias in AI

AI language models, the very engines driving innovation, have a profound impact on perpetuating societal biases. Drawing from existing information, these models tend to replicate and even amplify gender biases ingrained in our societies. Sasha Luccioni, Research Scientist and Climate Lead at Hugging Face, aptly expressed, “AI bias doesn’t come from thin air – it comes from the patterns we perpetuate in our societies.”

Leonardo Nicoletti, a data visualization journalist at Bloomberg, shed light on the disconcerting reality, stating, “Generative artificial intelligence doesn’t just replicate stereotypes or disparities that you see in the real world; it actually exacerbates these and makes them appear much worse than they really are.” A stark example emerged when Nicoletti requested AI image software to depict “judges,” revealing that only 3% of the generated images portrayed women.

Navigating the Ethical Landscape

In response to this burgeoning challenge, Joakim Reiter, Vodafone’s Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer, emphasized the need for clear rules and a “clear ethical compass” for AI projects. “Frankly, we need guardrails,” he asserted. “You cannot allow companies or individuals to have a free-for-all and experiment with something that has an impact on society.”

Reiter underscored the interconnectedness of companies with society, stating, “When you launch products and services, you have a responsibility to understand how those products and services interact with society, including societal norms and discrimination and biases in society.”

Why Gender Equality Matters Across the SDGs

Gender equality stands at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and its realization is pivotal for the successful implementation of all the goals. Let’s delve into the significance of gender equality across specific SDGs:

Why Gender Equality Matters Across the SDGs

In sustainable urbanization (SDG 11), women’s equal rights within the city are paramount. Ensuring their safety in public spaces not only fosters equality but also contributes to the sustainability of urban communities.

SDG 13: Climate Action

The imperative of gender equality extends into climate action (SDG 13). Women’s inclusion in climate discussions is not merely symbolic; it leads to improved outcomes of climate-related projects and policies. The disproportionate impact of climate change on women and children, who are 14 times more likely than men to succumb during a disaster, underscores the urgency of mitigating actions. Women’s livelihoods, deeply connected to agriculture, foraging, water fetching, and small-scale fisheries, face disruption due to climate change. Protecting the health and livelihoods of all those adversely impacted becomes an urgent call to action.

Illuminating the Future: Educating Young Minds

In the pursuit of a luminous future, Lumi recognizes the pivotal role of education in mitigating AI biases and fostering ethical development. We believe in empowering young minds with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the complex landscape of AI responsibly.

Through our innovative Skills Passport initiative, we are not just addressing the challenges; we are actively shaping the future. The Skills Passport places a spotlight on essential skills, including ethical use of AI and critical thinking. By instilling these values early on, we aim to cultivate a generation that is not only adept in the technologies of tomorrow but is also conscientious, breaking the cycle of biases that may otherwise persist.

Join us in this illuminating journey where education becomes the beacon guiding young minds to understand, question, and reshape the future of AI.

Spark the change. Ignite equality.

Source: The content presented in this blog post is derived from information provided by UN Women. For more details on gender equality initiatives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit [UN Women. Org, UN].

Written By: Farheen Noorah