Denise Gemesio wants early access to digital education.
Computer science finds itself at the end of the year in the headlines. At the educational level, unions decide to fight against setting up digital boards in our French-speaking schools. The majority on the left in the Lausanne Municipal Council even proposed to review the number of digital tables downwards, fearing a “leak forward”.
On a broader level, people around the world are getting to know a new app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create artistic portraits from around 20 selfies. Some users were outraged by the sexist results which produced bare images with, for women, an increase in the size of their breasts and, for men, bulging muscles.
“IT biases are just a symptom of a larger problem: the lack of representativeness in IT across gender, ethnicity and culture.”
Let us therefore take these two observations and highlight what links them. It has been known for years that computing, and more specifically AI, suffers from bias. They result, among other things, from the fact that IT professionals are mostly white men and that the images available to the AI derive from databases in which the majority of images representing men and women meet the physical ideals of our current society.
On the issue of women in particular, computer science courses are frequented by only around 18% of women and at the time of professionalization, this rate drops dramatically as women leave their jobs to focus on their families.
Focus on improvement
The proposal by the French-speaking cantons to add digital education to compulsory education is a first way of dealing with these problems. On the one hand, access to computers will allow girls to have a first contact with this field which is often associated with boys. On the other hand, it will allow representatives of various cultures, ethnicities, different social classes to take an interest in computers.
Innovation conceals negative biases and problems of perception of the world to be solved, but it also brings medical, ecological, educational, mobility technologies, etc., which will allow the world to become better. In conclusion: rather than focusing on blindly banning new technologies, let’s focus on improving them by making them inclusive!