All the androids are female

Interesting report on the gender issues at the World Economic Forum in Davos — where there is an 80/20 split of men/women.

We are all biased, she explains. “Even if you have the best intentions, it’s hard to overcome your unconscious biases.”

Her favorite example is about the top orchestras in the United States, which began having auditions behind curtains in the 1970s. At the time only 5 percent of their musicians were women. Orchestra directors were confident that they did not need the curtain and that they had been choosing candidates purely on sound.

But with the curtain, the proportion of female musicians in American orchestras started to rise. It’s nearly 40 percent today.

Bias is a big theme today. At a session that Ms. Bohnet moderates on forecasting bias, two professors — one male, one female — present together. He presents first; she doesn’t interrupt him once. When she speaks, he interrupts her six times — once, as he puts it, to clarify, before repeating what she said just 30 seconds earlier.

But some bright moments, and good things to hear from millennials.

And then there was the disturbing point made about artificial intelligence. Have you ever seen a male android? No hot male androids made by women; all hot females made by men. Creepy. This is the same bot that made headlines at SXSW last spring, wherein Macworld assured us Sophia’s creators weren’t looking to make sexbots.

Still, why do men insist on making female robots, and why must they all be sexy? My husband didn’t understand when I asked that. “Should they make the bot look like Rosie from the Jetsons?” he asked. Why not? What’s the value in a bot that includes sexual markers when the bot has nothing to do with sex? I’ll tell you why: because the bot is female, and making “good” females means making them sexually attractive to patriarchal eyes.

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