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Statement by Women in AI in support of #BlackLivesMatter

Women in AI stands in support with communities mourning the gruesome deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubery, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and the thousands of black lives lost over the years to police brutality and racial violence. We feel the pain of our sisters, brothers, and friends in the Black community who continue to suffer the repercussions of systemic and structural discrimination based on the colour of their skin.

Our hearts bleed the more as we watch the division and injustice on full display over the course of recent weeks, deepening the woes of a community disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We lend our voice in support of the millions of voices demanding a sweeping reform in the law enforcement and justice delivery system in America and beyond that disproportionately put Black lives at risk.

Women in AI, as a global network of female professionals in Artificial Intelligence, we understand that any conversation about diversity should happen at the intersection of gender, race, age, and class. Therefore, as we work to increase the participation of women in the field, we are fully aware that to have a fair, just and inclusive AI, we need to ensure that all minority communities are represented in the design and programming of AI technologies.

We are in an industry touted as being the driver in shaping the future not just in business but society in general. This bestows on us a great responsibility, now more than ever, to be deliberate in creating a future that is not just diverse, but inclusive. We are constantly discovering the many ways in which the machines we train, program, and design become the conduits for transmitting our implicit biases and prejudices.

Numerous reports point to how AI technologies tend to discriminate against people Black people and people of colour in policing, recruitment, public safety and the yet-to-rolled out self-driving cars. The time has come for us to move beyond merely paying lip service to the promotion of diversity, to intentionally working towards more progressively diverse workplace cultures, target hiring, fair compensation, etc.

It is our collective obligation as a community to work towards equality across the board. At Women in AI, we are constantly thinking long and hard about the various ways we can contribute to the creation of a diverse AI field representative of all voices. It behooves on those of us with privilege to use that to dismantle systems of oppression and the various ways in which they are manifested within our communities. We need to speak up more to ensure that justice is served, and people are treated fairly and equitably, and that Black lives are just as valuable, and precious as all lives.

*** Below is a curation of reports and articles related to AI and racism to help you appreciate the scope of the challenge at hand and to provide some ideas on how to address it.

Signed by

Hanan Salam

Co-Founder, Women in AI



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