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Women talk ethical AI at Women’s Agenda x Salesforce roundtable

A recent roundtable hosted by Women’s Agenda and Salesforce brought together a group of influential women to discuss the potential, ethics and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and what the technology means for women’s economic empowerment now and in the coming years.

The discussion focused on the future of AI and its impact on women, covering a wide array of topics including entrepreneurship, workplace training, trust, transparency, and accountability. Our discussions emphasised the need for a holistic approach that prioritises diversity, ethical considerations, stakeholder interests, and ongoing education and collaboration.

Here are the major takeaways from the conversation with representatives from Atlassian, Deloitte, KPMG, Commonwealth Bank, Canva, UNSW and many others.

The gendered trust gap

We kicked off our discussion with a poll on whether AI is perceived as a positive opportunity or a risk. Most participants responded saying it was an opportunity. However, it was also highlighted that a recent Salesforce study highlighted a gendered trust gap in generative AI, with only 43 per cent of women compared to 70 per cent of men trusting AI.

AI and gender disparities

Some women expressed skepticism towards AI due to historical biases, noting there has been a lack of women’s involvement in its development. Concerns were raised about how women, who are more likely to handle manual admin tasks, might be disproportionately impacted by AI disruptions in the workforce.

Women have also historically been the victims of malicious online content generated by AI, such as deep fakes.

Impact on job roles

As mentioned, the adoption of AI could also disproportionately impact job roles that are traditionally held by women. As a result, women might feel a need to exert more control over AI systems to safeguard against potential exploitation – at least, more than men, who’ve tended to benefit more from AI.

One participant noted that some women feel as if using AI is a form of “cutting the line” or “taking a shortcut”. Many women, she said, believe they need to do things manually, individually overseeing a process themselves to ensure optimal results. “Women seem to be more focused about the process, while men tend to be more results and outcome focuses,” she said. Many agreed. “Women are judged for how they do their work, men on the outcome.”

There’s also an issue of control, another participant suggested, with women potentially being more hesitant to relinquish control to technology. But what is the solution? Encouraging women to participate in these discussions to change the culture around AI and how it can help us, rather than hinder progress. 

Cultural shifts and norms

Cultural shifts were discussed, particularly in promoting a culture of transparency, accountability, and ethical decision-making within organisations. Participants emphasised the need to challenge traditional norms and biases that might perpetuate inequalities in AI adoption and usage.

AI adoption and training

Many women expressed anxiety about the lack of access to AI training within corporations, expressing that employers should invest in training programs that are inclusive of women and people from diverse backgrounds.

There was a discussion about employers’ obligations to provide AI training for employees and address any concerns around job security. 

“There is an obligation on employers to pay out and put in that training,” one participant said, pointing to a research paper that revealed an overwhelming majority of workers said that they hadn’t had access to training. “That was one of the things that was causing quite a lot of anxiety among workers.”

Some of the participants of the Women’s Agenda x Salesforce roundtable on AI

Empowerment through AI education

The Salesforce study also found that 81 percent of workers said they didn’t have training or education around the beneficial usages of AI. 

Education and training were identified as key components in empowering employees to navigate AI technologies effectively and ethically. Participants highlighted the need for organisations to invest in skill development and provide employees with the tools to understand and leverage AI responsibly. Some women also expressed the need for employers to implement training and education earlier in the process.

“It has to be sustained and organised education,” one participant said. “We should bring the people to the same page, and we should all have baseline knowledge of the risks and benefits of AI as new things come onboard.”

Transparency and accountability

Participants stressed the importance of transparency in AI decision-making processes to build trust among users and employees. Ethical AI principles and governance councils were mentioned as mechanisms to ensure accountability and mitigate biases. Many women said they wanted more businesses to prioritise ethical practices and accountability in AI development and deployment.

The concept of stakeholder capitalism was also highlighted, which is a concept that advocates for businesses to consider the interests of various stakeholders, not just shareholders. “It’s not just your customer or just your shareholder,” one participant reminded everyone. “It’s your employees too, and the community, it’s the environment. It’s public sector.”

Legislative and policy considerations

There were calls for legislative measures to hold companies accountable for unethical AI practices, especially in areas like content moderation. The importance of compliance with regulations and policies, as well as the role of media scrutiny, was also underscored.

Industry leadership and collaboration

Companies were urged to take a leadership role in promoting ethical AI practices and collaborating with industry peers to establish standards and best practices. The role of government and regulatory bodies in shaping AI policies and guidelines was highlighted as essential for fostering trust and ensuring accountability.

The roundtable addressed critical issues surrounding AI adoption, trust, transparency, and accountability. The future of AI is full of excitement and potential. It might give voice to those traditionally marginalised – all we need to ensure is that everyone is passionate and deliberate about our intentions. 

A more detailed report from these discussions will be released next month. 

Thanks to all the participants of this roundtable:

Rowena Westphalen, SVP of Customers, Innovation and AI at Salesforce; Renata Bertram, ANZ CMO at Salesforce; Alice Young, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader, Atlassian; Maggie Liuzzi, Product Manager at Canva; Tahlia Burgoyne-Thorek, Data & AI Manager KPMG Australia | Dunghutti | People & Change | Inclusion & Diversity; Flora Salim, Professor and Cisco Chair of Digital Transport & AI at UNSW; Prof Didar Zowghi, Diversity & Inclusion in Artificial Intelligence Lead: CSIRO’s Data61; Abigail Holman, Partner at Deloitte Consulting | Data & AI; Laura Morelli, Media Director at Third Hemisphere; Fiona McAuley, Manager of Commbank Women in Focus; Olivia Sanoubane, Risk Manager | Fintech at Monoover; Megan Fleming, Commercial Director – ESG Advisory at Prime Financial Group; Sarah Moran, Co-founder at Girl Geek Academy and PatientNotes App; Nadia Lee, CEO of ThatsMyFace; Sze Ding, BrightSpark and Sugi Health; Angela Shi, Co-founder & CEO at Empathetic AI; Roanne Monte, CEO & Chief Product Officer at Armatec Global; Angela Priestley, Co-Founder and Publisher at Women’s Agenda; Tarla Lambert, Co-Founder and Editor-in-chief at Women’s Agenda.

Originally Appeared Here

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