Tracey Spicer is an award winning journalist author and broadcaster who has anchored national programs for the ABC TV, radio , Network Ten and Sky News. Chosen as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence and awarded the Order of Australia for her 30 years working in media and for charity; Tracey has earned a reputation as one of Australia’s most respected journalists.
Her new book MAN-MADE: How the bias of the past is being built into the future – out this month -addresses how the bias of the past is being built into the future via artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning.
This book comes at a pivotal moment as AI is becoming more and more prevalent and many experts are voicing their concerns about the need for regulation when it comes to AI.
Tracey focuses on some key points in regards to AI such as how governments around the world are too slow in formulating regulations/legislation around AI. She also talks about how Big Tech is ‘moving fast and breaking things’ without first properly considering the impact on women and people in marginalised communities.
“Its not to late for us as consumers we have the power to be able to push back and say ‘Enough!’Tracey Spicer
Here we talked to Tracey about the inspiration behind her book and what finding shocked her most during her exhaustive research.
What inspired you to write your book? Around seven years ago, our 11-year-old son asked for a “robot slave”. Taj had been watching South Park. One of the characters,Cartman, was acting like a colonial overlord, ordering around his Amazon Alexa. I realised suddenly that the stereotypical attitude of the past about women and girls being servile was being embedded into the technology of the future.
Tell us about the book cover? The designer, Meng Koach, suggested that we use AI to design the cover to start an important conversation about the impact of this technology on the creative industries. The process was equally fascinating and terrifying. Initially, the algorithm spat out images of sexy robot women with tiny waists and huge breasts!
Your research was exhaustive, what were the findings that shocked you most? I was horrified by the racism being exacerbated at scale. There’s an automated soap dispenser that only works for white hands. This same technology is being used in self-driving cars. If the car approaches a pedestrian crossing, it might not be able to recognise a person of colour, and fail to stop.
How can we make a difference when it comes to unconscious bias and AI? We can change Siri to a male voice, catch Sheba instead of Uber, and talk to our children, friends, colleagues, workmates, and local MPs about our concerns for the future.
When it comes to AI, do you fear for the future or feel the benefits outweigh the risks? I’m a glass-half-full kinda gal, so I’m optimistic about the future. But governments, business and civil society need to act now, before it’s too late.
More about Tracey Spicer
Tracey Spicer’s latest book follows on from her first book, The Good Girl Stripped Bare, which became a bestseller within weeks of publication, wand her TEDx Talk, The Lady Stripped Bare, has attracted more than six million views worldwide.
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