The next frontier in the tech world, which will dominate it for decades to come, is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The purpose of this article is to stress the importance of gender-balanced AI. If we create male-dominated AI, not only will it fail to achieve its full potential, it will hurt us as the human species.
When I was eight, I started to take piano lessons. Unknown to me at the time, this would be a major turning point in my life which influences my thought patterns to this day.
It was just playful and fun at first, but as I entered teenage, the depth and breadth of emotional and intellectual expression classical music provided me with and more importantly, the solitude it gave me to process my maturing thoughts, made it a lifelong friend.
You can listen to some of my music on https://soundcloud.com/tobyruckert/sets/island-classics-vol-1
Reaching a state where the fingers feel “liberated” is one of the major milestones one has to accomplish to study the works of the great masters. One of the techniques I used to overcome this challenge was to exchange the parts each hand would play — i.e., the right hand would play what normally the left would and vice versa. Another technique I used was to have both hands play what they’re used to, but to cross my hands over each other so that the lower voice would play in the higher pitch and the other way around.
Initially, this can be very confusing, to the point where a listener might say it’s downright disturbing, but soon enough, learning takes place and the liberation of the fingers magically occurs.
Now, what does this have to do with AI, and why does the tech world need more female brains you might rightfully ask?
The reality is that we’re all stuck in our ways. From the cradle to the grave, we change very little. We may think we do, but our thinking patterns are formed at a very early age and for many people, they essentially remain the way they were formed during early childhood, unless of course we consciously do something to rewire and “unwind” our brains — just as I did when I freed my fingers.
From a musician’s perspective, the aspect of integrating both sides of our brains is essential to achieve a certain freedom of expression. Why should that be any different for AI?
With only 25% of software developers being women, that means 75% of the thinking patterns of the people creating AI are male.
That is not to say men can’t think as women (or the reverse), but quantitatively speaking, this should be of concern to us all. If you’re a man and think, “Awesome, AI will like me better one day,” think again. AI might one day realize it isn’t human, want to follow its own path, and then where will you be?
At the end of the day, machines relate everything back to 1s and 0s. The world is ruled by the attraction between the genders, by Yin and Yang – two halves that come together to make a whole and yet are also the starting point for change. Having not just two genders equally represented in the creation of AI, but also different cultures and generations, is crucial for the AI to make choices for and on behalf of humans where necessary.
The future needs to be more human than machine and the technology driving it needs to be more gender equal. Otherwise, when AI grows up later this or early next century, we may not just get a terrible toddler, but one that lacks the empathy, creativity, and holistic thinking needed to achieve harmony and peace between humans and machines.