Meta’s All-Male AI Advisory Board Sparks Controversy

Categories: AI NewsTags: , , , , Published On: May 25, 20242.6 min read

Meta unveiled an AI advisory council composed solely of white men on Wednesday. This lack of diversity is unsurprising given the long-standing exclusion of women and people of color from the AI field, despite their qualifications and contributions.

Meta did not promptly address inquiries regarding the board’s diversity. This new council differs from Meta’s existing board of directors and Oversight Board, which exhibit greater diversity. The AI board lacks fiduciary duty and was not elected by shareholders. Meta informed Bloomberg that the board’s role would involve providing insights on technological advancements and growth opportunities, with periodic meetings.

The council’s exclusive composition of businesspeople and entrepreneurs, excluding ethicists or academics, is noteworthy. While some argue that executives from Stripe, Shopify, and Microsoft are well-suited to oversee Meta’s AI product roadmap due to their experience, the unique risks associated with AI necessitate a broader perspective. AI’s potential for far-reaching consequences, particularly for marginalized groups, demands a cautious approach.

Sarah Myers West, managing director at the AI Now Institute, emphasized the importance of critically examining AI-producing institutions to ensure public needs are met. She highlighted the disproportionate harm caused by AI errors to marginalized communities, calling for a higher standard.

Women disproportionately face the negative impacts of AI. Deepfake technology has been weaponized against women, with nonconsensual, explicit content disproportionately targeting them. High-profile cases, like the Taylor Swift deepfake incident, demonstrate the challenges women face, especially those without the resources of a global celebrity.

Reports of students creating explicit deepfakes of classmates highlight the accessibility of this harmful technology. Apps specifically designed to “undress” photos or create explicit content have been easily accessible, raising concerns about the potential for harm. Meta’s Oversight Board is investigating the company’s handling of reports of sexually explicit, AI-generated content, following incidents like the Perky AI advertising controversy.

The inclusion of women and people of color in AI innovation is crucial. The historical exclusion of marginalized groups from technological development has led to detrimental outcomes. Examples include the exclusion of women from clinical trials and the disproportionate impact of self-driving car accidents on Black individuals.

AI systems trained on biased data perpetuate existing inequalities. Racial discrimination in employment, housing, and criminal justice is amplified by AI algorithms. Voice assistants struggle with diverse accents, and facial recognition systems disproportionately flag Black individuals.

The current AI landscape reflects existing power structures, with limited efforts to address these issues. The focus on rapid development often overlooks the potential for generative AI to exacerbate existing problems. The McKinsey report, indicating that AI could automate jobs disproportionately held by minority workers, raises concerns about the potential impact.

An all-white, male advisory board at a prominent tech company like Meta raises questions about their ability to develop products for diverse populations. Building truly inclusive technology requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing research and an understanding of intersectional societal issues. The complexities of creating safe and inclusive AI highlight the limitations of the current advisory board’s composition.

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