Just nine out of 116 AI professionals in films are women, study finds

A relentless circulate of movies, from Iron Man to Ex Machina, has helped entrench systemic gender inequality in the synthetic intelligence industry with the aid of portraying AI researchers nearly solely as guys, a examine has determined.

The overwhelming predominance of guys as main AI researchers in films has formed public perceptions of the industry, the authors say, and risks contributing to a dramatic lack of women in the tech workforce.

Beyond the impact on gender stability, the have a look at raises worries about the knock-on outcomes of merchandise that favour male users because they’re developed via what the former Microsoft worker Margaret Mitchell referred to as “a sea of dudes”.“Given that male engineers have time and again been shown to engineer merchandise which can be maximum suitable for and tailored to male users, using more ladies is critical for addressing the encoding of bias and pejorative stereotypes into AI technology,” the document’s authors write.

Researchers on the University of Cambridge reviewed extra than 1,400 films released between 1920 and 2020 and whittled them all the way down to the 142 most influential movies offering artificial intelligence. Their evaluation recognized 116 AI experts. Only nine of these were women, of which five labored for a person or have been the kid or accomplice of a more senior male AI engineer.

The take a look at highlights films along with the 2008 Avengers film Iron Man, which depicts a stereotypical lone male genius who has mastered so many abilities that he can synthesise an element and solve the trouble of time travel “in one night time”. In Alex Garland’s 2014 film Ex Machina, another lone genius is so a hit that he rises above the norms of ethics and regulation to concern an employee to violence at the same time as amusing himself with sex bots.

The earliest film inside the list with a female AI author is the 1997 film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, wherein a shouty Frau Farbissina unveils a trio of “fembots” geared up out with bullet-firing breasts.

Dr Kanta Dihal, a co-creator on the look at and a senior studies fellow on the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, stated part of the male bias changed into an “artwork-mimicking lifestyles” spiral whereby movie-makers painting AI experts as men to mirror the male dominance of the industry. But about one in 5 AI engineers are ladies, compared with less than one in 10 of those portrayed in cinema. “They are exacerbating the stereotype they see,” she said.The loss of woman AI engineers on display screen may also be connected to the shortage of women behind the digicam. According to the examine in Public Understanding of Science, no longer one distinguished movie about AI inside the past century changed into directed entirely by using a woman. The examine is observed by a report posted on the researchers’ website.

Dihal believes the perpetuation of male stereotypes is unfavorable on numerous levels. First is the effect on profession preference, with ladies doubtlessly dissuaded through the perception that AI is handiest for men. Second is the effect on hiring panels, who might come to perceive guys as a better “cultural healthy” for a tech firm. Then there is the workplace culture. “If a woman AI researcher gets into the place of business, what form of stereotypes and assumptions is she going to have to take care of?” Dihal said.

Prof Dame Wendy Hall, a regius professor of laptop technological know-how at the University of Southampton, said there was an pressing want for a campaign to increase variety in AI. Hall wrote her first paper on the dearth of girls in computing in 1987, and said the scenario become worse with AI because the potential impact on society changed into so fantastic.

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