Adopting a growth mindset allows you to grow your knowledge, from both a business and personal perspective.
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With a big focus on connectors, thought leaders, champions and change-makers, BIMA drives innovation and excellence across the digital and tech industry, building a fabulous and ever-growing digital community across Britain as they go.
On the 27th of February, they hosted an event titled ‘Responsible AI: How do we build systems that don’t discriminate?’. Whilst this may, on the surface, appear to be a fairly dry topic, on the day, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of questions to discover more.
As someone with a growth mindset ‒ and by that I mean I have a curious mind; a thirst to know and understand more about a variety of topics ‒ I firmly believe knowledge is power. So as a recent BIMA member, I was keen to dive straight into their educational events and see for myself what all the fuss was about.
There were some killer questions posed from the outset. Something now so glaringly obvious, I’m shocked that I’d never questioned it before, but why is Alexa a woman? Does it matter that Alexa is a woman? When we imbed human personas into technology, are we embedding old ways and outdated societal views and prejudices, reproducing stereotypical gender types? We can adopt an outdated assumption that, in years or decades gone by, a mother would be at home, therefore it’s logical for Alexa to have a woman's voice. But at a time when there’s a drive for gender diversity in all areas of business (broadcast, tech, finance, banking and in the agency landscape) was this the right decision for Amazon to make? I wonder how extensive their discussion was about which gender their ‘home assistant’ or ‘digital assistant’ should be, and the name it would be given.
Over the years, I’ve attended many of these ‘types’ of events, some under-deliver, some over-deliver ‒ and I’m pleased to report that this one over-delivered on all levels. Expansive topic, incredible and diverse panel of speakers, interactive and energetic Q&A, and to top it off, it was hosted in The Curtain in East London, a venue I’d not experienced before. Not only that, but the room was jam-packed with senior-level execs from a range of agencies, law firms and universities, as well as management consultants, demonstrating a wide interest in AI and what it means for their business and industry.
It’s not often you get to meet and speak with someone who’s on the European task force for AI. With a strong background in cyber security, Dr. El Samarji is focused on building responsible AI and on supporting the development of building regulations as standard that include safety, ethics and inclusion. She believes participants must include data scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, tech teams, and people from a socially diverse background to give a more rounded and complete picture. And, as others in the industry would concur, she agrees that we need to build data sets on the back of thoroughly interrogating data so that the best answer is predicted to a set of questions. It’s best not to limit the data set; AI needs to learn based on what people and consumers do. In conjunction, data must be gathered from other sources (social, online, merged with internal/business data), so a more diverse and responsible data set is achieved.
Phil Harvey, Senior Cloud Solution Architect for Data & AI ‒ Microsoft UK
What a charismatic chap, with a massive personality and a wonderful beard! Having a background in code, Phil really believes in challenge and stretching your thinking on a daily basis. Over time, the way we build software has changed dramatically, with developer environments becoming agile in their approach and working in short sprints ‒ the purpose being to fail fast and learn. From past experience, he says code, or coding, can stop people interacting with people. He also says that empathy is a conscious rational exercise and it’s key to bring people into the conversation.
Whilst Microsoft reinforces the belief that ‘AI amplifies human ingenuity’, Phil values the principle that if people and companies are successful, then he too is successful. A nod to the saying that ‘success breeds success’. He also states that there are key skills to understanding complex systems, but that they are not often taught. At the end of the day, where AI is concerned, we must follow a system, have principles and ensure that, at the centre of a project, there’s a responsible human being. It is down to that person or people to create a positive environment for the alignment of vision. In a world where consumers are demanding sustainable, green, ethical products, social pressure has become more understood and is being taken on board by companies.
Josie Young, Lead Consultant ‒ Artificial Intelligence (strategy and ethics) - Methods
With regards to AI, Josie firmly believes that, primarily, we need to think differently, to make explicit our decision-making process whilst building something, that we need to ask the right questions to bottom out the issues, and that there are complexities that need to be addressed and considered. She advised that we need to be mindful of assumptions as they may be misleading and that we need to interrogate assumptions so answers can be fed back into the programme. We need to make space for all brains to contribute equally, as this will create the best results. Thin data won’t work and AI is only as good as the data that’s fed into it. Moreover, humanity must be built into chatbots and platforms.
A huge advocate for designing AI products and systems using ethical principles, in her TED Talk, Josie talks about why we should be using technology to heal society’s problems, instead of adding to them.
Top key takeaways:
Human interaction and guidance is key
Without standards, AI is a dangerous place to be. There needs to be a good regulatory framework
Work with a diverse team that operates from a place of psychological safely (don’t build a sexist chatbot)
Have a growth mindset ‒ humans and robots alike
One of the things I love about working for a digital agency, is that the growth mindset also follows through to how to grow our own knowledge, both from a business and a personal growth perspective. I’ve always had a curious mind and a hunger for knowledge on a wide range of subjects, and a desire to find creative ways to do things better.
Once again, thank you to the team at BIMA for organising a great event and Catriona Campbell, Global Digital / EY Advisory, EY Seren, and also a renowned user-experience expert and entrepreneur, for being the host and driving a really insightful session.
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