The Importance of Diversity in Tech #Tech #Diversity
In 2017, a soap dispenser became an internet sensation. In a video circling the internet you’d see a white person placing his hand under the soap dispenser and soap comes out as normal. A person of color then proceeds after him and places his palm under the dispenser yet nothing happens.
The soap dispenser used infrared technology to sense human hand movement. The invisible light is then reflected from the hand and back to the sensor which triggers the sensor to release soap. This becomes a problem because darker colors absorb light, so not enough of that light is reflected back to the sensor, while lighter skin will reflect more light back. I’ve also experienced this while trying to wash my hands at an establishment last week…and don’t get me started about the Xbox Kinect.
Now, this may seem like a small design flat that doesn’t make a significant effect, but this is just a basic example of how technology some is being created is not taking into account of the diverse population that exists in this nation.
This issue of bias may potentially get worst when we think about the evolution of self-driving car A.I. systems that can’t consistently identify darker toned pedestrians or the Amazon Recognition Program that uses online images to identify criminals.
While the diversity and inclusion movement has made some gains in the last few years, it has still suffered severe setbacks. Moving forward we must start implementing clear diversity representation, inclusion goals, and a comprehensive approach to achieve them.
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