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Diversity in AI improves, but has further to go, according to IBM survey

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Ninety-one percent of artificial intelligence professionals say increased diversity is having a positive impact on AI technology, but opinions vary based on country as well as gender, according to an IBM study.

The IBM Global Women in AI study was part of a broader look at diversity and honoring women in AI. Diversity of thought is critical to the development of AI, so the technology avoids bias and operates ethically. Confidence in AI systems largely depends on whether the technology is viewed as biased. Developers – it’s time to brush up on your philosophy: Ethical AI is the big new thing in tech

According to IBM’s study, 85% of global AI professionals thought the industry has become more diverse in recent years. Most of respondents said that diversity has had a positive impact on AI technology. The poll covered a sample of 3,221 AI professionals in US, Canada, India, and Europe.


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In addition, 86% of AI professionals had confidence in AI systems’ ability to make decisions without bias, but 64% of respondents thought the general public felt the same way.

Overall, men were more confident that AI systems could make decisions without bias.


Other key items in the survey include:

  • 74% say the AI industry must become more diverse to reach its potential.
  • Men working in AI were more likely to be told they have a natural talent for mathematics and hard sciences than women in AI. Men and women in AI were equally interested in math and sciences growing up.
  • 46% of men working in AI became interested in a tech career in high school or earlier. 53% of women in AI became interested in tech careers in college or grad school.
  • Women in AI were more likely to face career hurdles and the gender gap is largest in India. Across all AI professionals, hurdles included challenges with getting an organization to use AI, building the technology and trusting it, discrimination, discouragement, lack of opportunities and poor management.
  • Men were also more confident having AI as a team member than women. However, 90% of AI professionals are at least somewhat confident with the idea of AI as a team member.

And here’s what respondents thought should be prioritized in AI system design.