An issue in the creation of all technology is that it is often made by a select group of people who share the same kinds of backgrounds and experiences.
For example only 11% of computer scientists creating AI are women. This means that however well intentioned creators are, they find it hard to fully understand how the systems they build affect people who have different lifestyles and issues. This is why more involvement from people with different backgrounds, ages and ways of life is needed – to question, check and refine the process of building AI systems and models.
Your responses and opinions need to be taken into account, and your feedback on new uses of AI is essential. We are developing different ways to work with companies to do this, from low commitment to a more formal role as a Citizen Advisor to companies building AI. A few of these schemes may be a good route into employment, if this is something you are interested in.
Unlike some forms of discrimination and negative impact, the harm done by AI is often invisible, which means that it is hard or impossible for people to challenge and change.
People have been unfairly turned down for a loan, been pressured into spending money they don’t have, or not offered services available to others, all based on things such as skin colour or gender. This is in many cases illegal, and we should have a right to know when machines make decisions about us. But in reality, information is not available and people can’t afford to challenge decisions, even if they had been aware they had been made.
Although further regulation is needed, it’s clear that existing laws surrounding equal opportunities and data privacy are regularly broken without challenge, and so we can’t just rely on regulation but on making AI accountable.
Your involvement in raising awareness can range from simply talking or sharing materials and surveys with your friends and family, to more formal positions – it all makes a difference. If you can reach out to groups regularly either on social media or in person, you could become a recognised We in AI Ambassador.
We are also rolling out a Community Educator Programme which will give you tools and training to run workshops or discussions with groups such as schools, community groups, charities and youth groups. You will enable them to think clearly about complicated issues, and empower them to take actions – such as safeguarding their data, demanding transparency about automated decision making, avoiding manipulation, knowing their rights.
As a society we need better visibility of how AI is changing people’s lives, and how it can be used for good. We can support you to flag issues you see, and link with research and studies, and campaigns to influence policy making.