FCAI and partner Women in AI Ethics hosted a lively discussion on the role of women in AI and tech in a panel event moderated by Teemu Roos (University of Helsinki) and Nitin Sawhney (Aalto University) on September 28, 2022.

A memorable conversation with Mia Shah-Dand, Teemu Roos, Riikka Koulu, Minna Ruckenstein, and Marja Niemi about the challenges of multidisciplinary approaches to AI ethics, and pathways for diversity, inclusion and agency for women and minorities in the tech sectors in the US and Nordics. 

Why does it matter and how does it nurture not just innovation, but a truly inclusive and equitable society? What are the power dynamics, privilege, and conflicting values we must confront but also leverage to ensure not just tokenistic participation, but truly pluralistic and critical voices influence our shared futures? 

The pervasiveness of biased algorithms and increased risk to human lives from flawed AI systems have highlighted an urgent need to consider how and by whom AI is developed and deployed. Multi-disciplinary diversity can ensure all voices are at the table, supporting the vision for a more inclusive and ethical tech future.

“So many women in AI are working behind the scenes. We are doing this work but nobody cares because it’s not making millions,” says Mia Shah-Dand, CEO at Lighthouse3 and Founder of Women in AI Ethics (WAIE).

WAIE is a non-profit with a mission to increase recognition, representation, and empowerment of women in AI. The organization started with the publication of the “100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics” list in 2018, now published annually to recognize rising stars and pioneers in this space.

WAIE has also launched an online directory of Women in AI Ethics to make it easier for conference organizers and recruiters to find talented women working to make AI ethical, inclusive, and accessible for all.

Democratizing tech

“In order to democratize tech, we might have to push it to the side and think what we actually want to do first. We don´t want to promote AI, but we want to do something good in society,” says Minna Ruckenstein, Professor at the Centre for Consumer Society Research at the University of Helsinki.

According to Riikka Koulu, Assistant Professor and Director of the University of Helsinki Legal Tech Lab, AI ethics has rapidly become a question of AI regulation and we need to ask what can regulation on a national level, European level and global level do to increase diversity in AI.

“Many of the ethical principles—transparency, explainability, accountability—are the same principles that are also sedimented in law. And if we look at existing laws that have nothing to do with technology, those values are reflected there,” says Koulu.

Watch the full discussion below and read more about the partnership between FCAI and WAIE that started in 2022.

FCAI news article: https://fcai.fi/news/2022/10/3/diverse-pathways-to-ethical-and-inclusive-tech-futures