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Sushma Raman Moderates Panel on Addressing Gender Bias in Artificial Intelligence

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to become more ubiquitous in all aspects of our everyday lives, more sectors of our society, business, and government are reckoning with the myriad ways in which these tools can be misused or weaponized against marginalized groups. While they may appear neutral, the uncomfortable truth is that AI models are encoded by data scientists whose own biases can be “passed down” to these technologies, absent ethical guidelines about fundamental human rights values—including gender equality.

On October 20, 2023, Heising-Simons Foundation’s President and CEO Sushma Raman facilitated a conversation at the Women Moving Millions’ NextGen Summit about influencing AI technology through a gender equality lens. Tech experts Nabiha Syed, Chief Executive Officer of The Markup (a Foundation grantee), and Tracy Chou, Founder & CEO of Block Party, shared why feminist approaches to AI development and design are critical in this booming field.

Nabiha Syed leads The Markup, an award-winning media startup that challenges technology to serve the public good. Earlier this year, she was personally recognized by the NAACP as a digital civil rights icon. During the session, Ms. Syed discussed the harms of increasingly easy-to-execute cyber-attacks, a faulty algorithm that devastated the lives of 4,500 women in the Netherlands, and the environmental impacts of deploying AI technology.

Tracy Chou is an entrepreneur and software engineer known for her work advocating for diversity and inclusion in tech. During the session, Ms. Chou cited often being the only female coder in the room as her inspiration to investigate how gender bias can affect AI design and deployment. AI tools can be used for good or bad, she commented, depending on what values are built into them.

Ms. Raman leads the Foundation’s grantmaking seeking to address the impact of technology on society—harnessing its promise and mitigating its risks. This line of grantmaking aims to build a more just and inclusive society, one where those most affected by harms and inequities not only benefit from technological advancements, but where their perspectives and needs are centered in the design and deployment of emerging technologies.

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