Why female students need to take up artificial intelligence as a matter of urgency

Why female students need to take up artificial intelligence as a matter of urgency

A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology, which highlights the fact that autonomous cars would detect dark-skinned pedestrians less well, has just proved it once again: artificial intelligence is not infallible and contains many biases. And if nothing changes in the way the mathematical models behind this technology are designed, entire populations — women and ethnic minorities in the first place – could be harmed.

In any case, this is the point of view of many and many whistleblowers, from and / or working with this technology. “There’s an emergency. It is not necessary that the algorithms that will guide 90% of our actions are written by men“, said Caroline Lair, account executive at the voice assistant startup Snips, during a meeting with some journalists at the Bpifrance Hub this Thursday, March 7, 2019. “For these algorithms to be fair and balanced, women have to come,” adds Cécile Morel, global key account specialist at Cenareo.

According to the Gender Scan study by Global Contact, in 2017, the proportion of girls who go to high-tech training drops or stagnates in France, at very low levels: 13% in 2015 in engineering sciences at the end, 8% in computer science IUT, 7% in computer science / data processing.

Read also : The lack of diversity in tech in Europe is ‘concerning’ asserts an associate of the Skype co-founder’s investment fund

In their book “Artificial Intelligence, not without them!”, the Doctors of science Aude Bernheim and Flora Vincent defend the idea that it is not necessary to wait for recruitment in the company to change mentalities but to act during the school career. “In schools of computer science and mathematics, specific modules on ‘encoding equality’ would change people’s views,” they say in the newspaper Le Monde.

This is also the opinion of Caroline Lair, also co-founder of the Women in AI association, which encourages women to join the AI sector, through multiple actions including meetings in colleges and high schools. “We have to go and get these young girls, give them confidence. At 15-16, we haven’t lost them yet. We tell them that to work in AI, you don’t necessarily have to know how to code, but you have to understand what’s going on. This is the training of an engineer.”

It seems that things are starting to move in France. Non-exhaustive examples include the computer science school 42, which says it registered almost 30% of women at the February selections, the Wagon with promos made up of 30% women, or the opening of a new school of code and technological creation Ada School, which should be launched in September, with the support of Station F, The Family incubator and the Ile-de-France Region.

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