AI: One giant leap backwards for womankind

AI: One giant leap backwards for womankind

You can’t ignore the frenzy around AI tools right now.

Every creative is eyeball deep in it, quietly gripped by both the potential and the existential threat. It’s already clickbait for the Mail Online and a plaything for the Siddiqui family on Gogglebox. It’s mainstream.

We best buckle up.

The new range of generative image tools like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney can bring your imagination to life quicker than ever. Type in a prompt and watch it generate unique images, just for you. It’s jaw dropping when you first poke around. But use the tools for long enough, and you start to notice a worrying trend - this exciting new world is very clearly a man’s world.

Is artificial intelligence inherently sexist?

We asked Midjourney to visualise the top 20 highest paid roles in the UK. 88% of the images it created were of men. Most of the time, they presented with exaggerated masculine features. Muscley arms in crisply ironed shirts, with steel jaw gazes. Meanwhile, women were only presented in stereotypical job roles lower down the corporate ladder. And even in professional situations, they are commonly sexualised with larger-than-life boobs, unbuttoned tops and sexy pouts.

In fact, without a gender specific prompt, women are barely represented anywhere in the AI world. 

Type in ‘International Tennis Star’ and four shouting men appear. Not a Williams sister in sight.

This experiment started very close to home – the AI equivalent of Googling ourselves, really. I asked AI to generate images for myself, my colleague Amber Abbott the MD of our Sydney team and Sophie Nicholson, who heads up our PR offer across EMEA. Turns out we don’t look much like our AI-generated headshots.

Change the reflection in the mirror.

We asked what AI thinks about this… and ChatGPT said ‘An AI system that assigns higher salaries to men than women may reinforce the stereotype that men are better suited for high-paying jobs.’ Thanks for the recognition, ChatGPT.

So, what can we do? 

There is no quick fix solution, it is up to employers to change the reflection of society in the AI mirror. 

To better champion diverse employment. Build a roster of talent that reflects the fact that half the population is female with a right to a seat at the top table. And we haven’t even touched on the race, disability, and age bias of these platforms which is equally as shocking. Real life progress needs to be visible to AI and Silicon Valley MUST engineer for equality, starting right now.

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