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Meta has announced a new AI Advisory Group and it's all white men

Meta says that its new all white and all male AI Advisory Group is composed of outside advisors that "Meta's management team will periodically consult with on strategic opportunities related to our technology and product roadmap." We think they're missing a few perspectives.

ICYMI: Meta (the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp) has announced a new AI Advisory Group

The group is designed, as far as we can tell so that they "will periodically consult with Meta's management team on strategic opportunities related to our technology and product roadmap", as well as the company's artificial intelligence strategy. Unsurprisingly, they're not giving the public much insight into what that involves.

The announcement comes after OpenAI was criticised for appointing a board composed entirely of white men (though later added three female directors to its board in light of the backlash).

So, who is on the new Meta Advisory Group?

The new Advisory Group consists of four men leading some of the most prominent tech companies in Silicon Valley: Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of technology company Stripe; Nat Friedman, founder of GitHub and AI Grant; Tobi Lütke, founder and CEO of Shopify; and Charlie Songhurst, a leading technology investor and formerly General Manager of Global Corporate Strategy and Microsoft.

As you can probably tell, there are some key 'missing perspectives' (sorry, we had to), on this Advisory Group: women, and people of colour. Meta has copped backlash in light of last week's announcement for failing to bring together a diverse board - particularly when the stakes when it comes to AI are so high, reports CNN. Meta has not yet responded to the publication's requests for comment on the Advisory Group's lack of diversity.

Why is this problematic?

It's well-known that women and people of colour have been impacted by biased algorithms and datasets.

Meta has faced complaints from human rights groups in Europe that allege that the company's algorithm it uses to target users with job advertisements is discriminatory. Not-for-profit Global Witness obtained data from Facebook's Ad Manager platform, and found that Facebook's ad platform was targeting users with job postings based on historical gender stereotypes.

For instance, job advertisements for roles such as mechanics and engineering where overwhelmingly shown to male Facebook users, while ads for education roles such as preschool teaching positions were shown to female users.

Global Witness found that in the Netherlands, 97% of those who were shown an ad for a receptionist were women, and 79% who were targeted with an ad for a role as a chef were men. In France, only 12% of those targeted for a psychologist job were men and just a quarter of those that were shown a pilot job ad were women. 

“Big tech platforms would like us to believe that they represent progress and are building the future. Instead, we find that they are entrenching historical and regressive gender stereotypes by running an algorithm that is denying women the opportunity to know about job opportunities," said Naomi Hirst, Digital Threats Campaign Leader at Global Witness.

In June 2022, when Meta reached a legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice that forced Meta to make housing ads more equitable on Facebook, after finding that algorithms introduced bias when delivering advertisements, resulting in a variance along sex and estimated race/ethnicity. Just last month, Meta's AI image generator was criticised for its inability to create images of couples or friends from different racial backgrounds.

“When AI systems are used as the gatekeeper of opportunities, it is critical that the oversight of the design, development, and deployment of these systems reflect the communities that will be impacted by them,” Joy Buolamwini, AI expert and the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League told CNN earlier this year.

TLDR: Having an Advisory Group consisting entirely of white men is not just bad for Facebook users - it's bad for society.