CO - Techinnovation

About Tech Data Diversity And Inclusion

About Tech Data Diversity And Inclusion
About Tech Data Diversity And Inclusion

I am excited about attending the Hispanic IT Executive Council ( HITEC ) Summit at Charlotte this week. I am always thrilled to join this vibrant community of Hispanic technology leaders that are not only progressing their company’s tech transformations but also ensuring we build diversity and inclusion in tech, business and society. It’s also a pleasure to represent my company ThoughtWorks in were we believe that our organisational culture, our clients, and our industry benefit from the backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of people from all walks of life.

Today, I want to reflect about diversity and inclusion in tech and what does it mean for us in HITEC and overall in the tech industry.

Recently, Wall Street Journal’s technology reporter Christopher Mims wrote the article “Every Company is Now a Tech Company.” In this article he highlights the fundamental role that technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence and connectivity play not only in enabling new business models but also in making almost every company a Tech@Core business.

Technology is not a support to the business anymore, it’s the new engine of agility, adaptability and responsiveness allowing companies to compete in a highly digitized marketplace.

But tech is not only redefining the business world. For many years our lives have been enabled, augmented, and unfortunately sometimes captured - by moments of Tech@Core life. There are few things that we do not do through interacting with digital devices, just keep a journal of your daily routine and might look like this: Alexa wakes you up early in the morning and read the news, your Uber picks you up at your home location, you order your favorite coffee on the go, from your mobile phone so it’s ready for pick up when you arrive to your office and maybe you post about where you are going to have cocktails in the evening, in case your friends want to meet up. And this is only the starting point. As Andrew Ng - founder and CEO of Landing AI and former VP & Chief Scientist of Baidu - points out: ‘If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.” The sky is certainly the limit; is it ?

At the center of this Tech@Core life there is an asset that has regained value and attention in the last few years: data.

Data is the ultimate engine of intelligent automation and the quality and diversity of it significantly impacts the decisions that machines will increasingly make about business, life and society.

The quality and diversity of the data we use to feed AI and its algorithms will be of paramount importance for the future of human-machine collaboration. In this context, the topic of bias in AI must be a primary concern not only for the tech community but for society in general.

AI systems are only as good as the data we put into them. Unfit data sets could contain implicit racial, gender, or ideological biases that lead to wrong decisions.

While an incorrect Amazon recommendation might be tolerable, a misinformed algorithm used by the criminal justice system  could send an innocent human being to jail; certainly a catastrophic outcome.

According to 2017 estimates from the Census Bureau, there are over 58.9 million Hispanics living in the United States, and by 2030, U.S. Hispanics are expected to reach more than 72 million. Even more impressive is the fact that today in the United States there are 131 million multicultural Americans, making up 37.5% of the U.S. population.

So the key questions are: Is the data to be used by algorithms representing this multicultural landscape of the society in where we live ? What are the consequences of non-diverse data sets in the future of intelligent automation ? I believe we have some work to do.

So during the next two days we have the opportunity at HITEC to discuss and build points of view on many topics around diversity, inclusion, innovation and technology.

A key topic to reflect on is our responsibility as leaders to build tech with the same diversity that we aspire for the world in where live; a multicultural world that needs tech becoming a trustworthy amplifier of human capability.

I am positive about tech innovation that is why I continue to say - ‘It’s the best time to be in tech’.



 
  • Marcelo De Santis
    Marcelo De Santis
    Advisor, Digital transformation, Thoughtworks

    Marcelo is Executive Advisor at ThoughtWorks and is helping companies with their digital transformation and corporate innovation strategies. Prior to joining ThoughtWorks, he was CIO of Mondelez and Pirelli. Marcelo regularly mentors entrepreneurs at 1871 and Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the Board of Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) working to increase LatinX and Women representation in STEM careers. Marcelo is an active contributor of Forbes Technology Council. Over the years, he has developed a “panoramic view” of the enterprise while working across a wide range of industries - consulting, automotive, telco, financial services, healthcare and CPG. He has provided leadership to startups and Fortune 500 corporations in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America.  

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