How AI will change the DEI landscape

A Black woman's hands type on a silver laptop in front of a window with trees outside in the background and a glass of orange juice and a green plant and a cell phone on the desk beside the laptop. The woman is wearing a watch and a grey sweater.

In November 2022, the world of technology changed forever. The soft launch of OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, ignited a new Space race in the tech world. So, what does this new tech development mean for DEI practitioners and HR professionals?

AI vs Generative AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around the block. It functions on the most basic level by learning from a large data set, then predicts, analyzes, and responds to specific interactions. You’re probably using an AI-operated system in your daily life when you:

  • Ask Siri for directions
  • Turn on live captioning on YouTube videos
  • Turn on live transcription during Google Meets
  • Use Duolingo to learn a language
  • Use Grammarly for edits and recommendations
  • Ask for coding assistance through Copilot

The commotion over ChatGPT is that it takes AI one step further by generating new content. Generative AI also uses machine learning, but instead of predicting content, it analyzes content to produce a spontaneous output. In the case of ChatGPT, this can be a perfectly crafted cover letter that uses every term listed on a job posting. In another example, Adobe can take text and turn it into a recording indistinguishable from a person’s voice. The advancements in generative AI have pushed machines past the point of just assisting to produce.

How does this relate to DEI?

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives don’t live in a vacuum, and AI advancements will continue to impact marginalized folks. On the one hand, assistive technology, like speech-to-text, has provided opportunities for those who are physically impaired to communicate. Conversely, facial detection systems can be used to racially profile individuals in public spaces. Safiya Noble, the writer of Algorithms of Oppression, warns about the dangers of machine learning and the data used to teach it. As a thought experiment, consider the consequences of an automatic tap that is only trained to recognize Caucasian skin tones.

AI and DEI

So, how can generative AI help with EDI initiatives? Let’s dive into 3 ways AI can support marginalized folks in their day-to-day life.

1)   Create Meeting Notes

Fresh off the heels of their multi-billion dollar investments into OpenAI, Microsoft will launch a premium version of Microsoft Teams powered by ChatGPT. This upgraded system will automatically create meeting notes, list recommended tasks based on the discussion, and provide personalized highlights. Beyond note-taking, the system will divide the meeting recording into sections and schedule any future meetings mentioned. For neurodivergent individuals, these upgraded functions can help organize and manage the large amount of information provided during meetings. Additionally, detailed notes and sub-divided recordings make information recall a simple task.

2)   Writing Assistance

ChatGPT is not a perfect writer, but it is a fantastic assistant. Provided with enough context, the chatbot can write any text in any style. For English Language Learners, this can look like an AI editor who proofreads text for tone, clarity, or style. It can also be used as a translation tool, providing (mostly) accurately translated text. Most impressively, it can provide copy text for a website or report with sufficient input.

3)   Create Content

Generative AI has also reached visual forms like images and videos. For example, DALL-E (developed by OpenAI) and Midjourney are systems that take text prompts and turn them into images. In the competitive world of content creation (think a website blog post or a social media ad), small business owners who don’t have access to a design department can generate hyper-specific images. Alternatively, AI-generated images can create medical illustrations that depict skin tones unseen, supporting the work of individuals like Chidiebere Ibe.

Generative AI will change the landscape of technology and our relationship with it. As new developments come to light, it will be crucial to keep in mind its impact on marginalized communities. In part II of this series, I will dive into the challenges and potential harm between AI and EDI.

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Charlotte Wray is a contributing writer at MT Consulting Group.

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