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Working to ensure that AI are equal

Published: 25 August 2021

Artificial intelligence can help create discrimination. That is why the Machine Learning Group at Luleå University of Technology works actively to ensure that future AI solutions combat inequalities and improve gender equality.

In order for artificial intelligence, AI, to be able to act independently, it is trained in making different choices with the help of previous data. In order for AI not to maintain or even reinforce gender stereotypes, the system must be programmed correctly. On the one hand, there must be diversity and equality among those who code, and on the other hand, it is important to have a great awareness of the issues. All of this is something that the machine learning group is constantly working on.

Equal AI systems
Foteini Simistira Liwicki, senior lecturer in machine learning, says:
– In our group, we tried from the beginning to have as many women as men and to treat everyone in an equal way.

György Kovács, postdoctoral fellow in the same department, agrees:
– We work hard to ensure that men and women have the same opportunities and are treated equally. The benefits of gender equality are many, it provides a better work environment, more job satisfaction and better results.

Develops AI technology for humans
Gender equality work is also reflected in the work towards the companies and in the projects they work in, including the AI ​​project Applied AI DIH North, which includes a number of company cases. AI is dependent on data, lots of data. Algorithms model real data, and if gender inequality exists in society, it also exists in the data. Thus, there is a great risk that AI will also be unequal. As a result, developers may unknowingly add gender prejudices to AI systems.

Richa Upadhyay, PhD student in the group says:
– This is really not the kind of development AI predicts. Therefore, it is just as important to develop an understanding of gender equality in our societies as it is to develop an understanding of our AI systems.

Foteini Simistira Liwicki, continues:
– Because we develop AI technology for humans, it is important that the developed technology has the different opinions of all people and that it is not biased with regard to gender. Gender equality requires that both women and men are equally involved.

Hopeful future
The field of computer science has been male-dominated for decades. It's changing, but it's slow. However, Foteini is hopeful.
– I am the educational leader for the new 5-year engineering program Applied AI and for the first time, a large number of women have applied for the program. It makes me so happy for our future in AI!