Why Are Women Vital For the Future of Artificial Intelligence

Another female recently moved into many tech-savvy homes, including mine. Her name is ALEXA. But for me ALEXA remains an ‘it’….and not human, not a woman…just a beautiful creation of AI! Time and again, studies and experiences have proved that people prefer women assistants, even if it is a Digital Voice! Why? Because a female if considered to be more welcoming, empathetic and thus more understanding over a male. Which is why ALEXA and her GOOGLE friend has been coded with dulcet feminine tones.

But isn’t that just a historic, old-fashioned stereotype? Do service bots really need to be ‘female’ to be relatable? Shama Haider an AI expert operating in San Francisco explains, “In future, the AI – Artificial Intelligence is going to run our lives. And thus, we perhaps need to challenge as well as channelise some of these preconceptions. High time we come up with some new perspectives. But then the future of AI is women!”

Is Shama talking riddles? Well, AI enthusiast and researcher Sam Berty Mccune is of the view that women are indeed vital to AI.

  1. Empathetic approach fuels AI

Sam gives us the example of Vanessa Xi, CEO of YONO Labs, known for creating YONO – world’s first in-ear ovulation predictor. What does is do? Well, it measures basal body temperature (BBT) and helps women track their fertility. “So how did she come up with this idea? As per my research, Vanessa used to measure her own BBT every morning and realised how the conventional method was really a frustrating one. So to make it simpler, she devised YONO, which procures the temperature through an earpiece, uses a related mobile app and at the tip of your fingers, it charts out the monthly fertility chart. So easy,” informs Sam.

What do we infer? We infer that as men continue to develop such AI-based solutions, they tend to run under the risk of getting biased, and ignore female problems and characteristics. Solutions like Vanessa’s play a key role in diversifying the applications of artificial intelligence.

Similarly, Sam informs about Erica Lee, CEO, and co-founder of DeepFarm.ai. She took on the charge of social and environmental responsibility and went on to devise an “Agricultural AI Analytics” platform that uses AI for early detection of crop issues that are hard to see or difficult to manage if detected at a later stage. Thus today, DeepFarm is known for its innovations in regenerative farming methods to help combat global farming problems

Sam explains, “While soil analysts that offer help to the farmer just analyse a normal soil sample. On the other hand, DeepFarm goes a step ahead – it analyses farm data at three different layers—above, at and below the soil. Erica had the empathy to analyse that the root cause of a farmer’s problem is not just in the soil but beyond it. And thus, today DeepFarm is a globally famous brand based on AI.”

  1. Emotional Intelligence Powers AI

Here I would like to quote Matias Cortes, the economist who was the lead researcher on the York University study. I read him in an article at Quartz Media. He had asserted, “Our results do suggest that the increasing demand for interpersonal skills is something that favors women. So if this is a trend going forward—if we think that AI will increase the need for social skills—then this may be beneficial for women, because they really have a comparative advantage there.”

  1. Flexible and Inclusive Approach Skyrockets AI

Adil N Nair, an AI expert from Kerala, India has a team of 17 women and five men working under him. He argues that solving the AI puzzle from “good effort” to “best effort” means that we shift our perspective from a “male employee” = competitive, risk-taking, controlling; to that of the “female employee ” = flexible, open and distributed. Why?

Adil explains, “I have an experience of 10 years in this industry, you can say I have been working in AI even when it was just in the infant stage and not even named AI. And I began with a team of men and gradually moved to women. Why? While men mean MANAGER of command; control; go…grab and bring it back etc. women, on the other hand, are experts in dealing with abundance. It is inherent in them, just like a mother will bring up 10 children with élan, as she would do for two! The female will always meet abundance and shares it around the society, country, world. And AI means sharing the abundance of the boon of Science around the world.”s

All this comes together with some insight from Austalia-based media expert on AI Shakti Singh Govil. He says, “Women tend to excel in all qualities that the new world demands since they are by default programmed by Science to adapt to changes faster than men. So my only tip to business leaders working on AI is to prepare for the future which is women. Hire them, mentor them, promote them and reap benefits in the long run. I forsee an AI revolution that won’t just be feminine—it will be powered by women.”

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Mahima Sharma

A regular columnist at TechThirsty and other reputed webzines, Mahima is a seasoned journalist having worked as News Editor CNN-News18 & ANI (a collaboration with Reuters).