Automating Gendered Inequality: The challenge of everyday AI

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Gina Neff is an associate professor at the Oxford Internet Institute and the department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. Her work includes fascinating research on the digital transformation of industries, and the ways that technological advancements impact the world of work. ‘Self-Tracking’ (co-authored with Dawn Nafus) is Neff’s most recent book, on the ubiquity of the use of wearable tracking devices to enforce ‘scientific management’ of workplaces. It was described by the New York Review of Books as “ easily the best book… on the subject”. Dr Neff will be speaking with us on the intersections between gender and AI, a topic upon which she has spoken extensively, most recently in fascinating episode of the FutureMakers podcast, entitled ‘Alexa, Does AI have gender?’. There are significant social and cultural ramifications to the gendered presentations that are imbued into AI and machine learning. An example of this is the reinforcement of traditional gender norms in the classifications of the AIs we use for household chores being gendered female, and those in professional environments who perform more ‘intelligent’ tasks gendered male. This is largely because of institutionalised sexism, and a lack of both female and people of colour’s voices at the table when these systems are being developed. "Meredith Bourssard says in her book Artificial Unintelligence: ‘We have a small, elite group of men who tend to overestimate their mathematical abilities who have systematically excluded women and people of colour in favour of machines for centuries”. Will emerging AI systems worsen gender inequality? This talk presents historical research on digitisation efforts to suggest concrete ways how the widespread adoption of AI systems will worsen social inequalities. Then, using emerging ‘use and abuse cases’ of AI in everyday practice and use, Neff will develop a framework for managing ‘everyday AI’ that builds insights from both social science and humanities. The goal being: to urge scholars from these fields to engage in urgent conversations about the future of technology. We hope that the interdisciplinary nature of Futures Thinking can open up conversations between people from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds to start to tackle issues like this by providing alternate perspectives and a place to discuss ideas.

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A vegetarian/vegan lunch will be served.

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