Digitisation is not a wishful thinking. It is an imperative tool for meeting the challenges of our time. We must use Europe’s innovative capacity in such a way that it focuses on people. Silicon Valley seems to have left us behind, but has forgotten one thing: Successful digitisation centres “people” and “context”, across social groups.
The status quo of digitalisation in Germany paints a sad picture: many people feel overtaken by digitalisation, not taken along. It is a privileged white male topic. This has to change when we talk about innovation strategies – not only from a human rights perspective, but also from a corporate strategy perspective.
If women* are missing from the data, companies are missing 51% of the total population as a target group. Facial recognition software that misidentifies People of Colour is not only discriminatory, it is clearly a bad product. Good innovation considers these facets of AI from the beginning: Intersectional Feminism by Design.
Well, what innovation do I want?
If we look at current AI solutions, they are often about increasing efficiency and productivity gains. I have an MBA and I understand that at first glance companies see AI as an EBIT margin accelerator.
But the math doesn’t add up. AI as innovation means balancing the overall societal cost and benefit factors. Social and ecological sustainability must therefore be part of every digitisation strategy.
We need innovative solutions to solve the social challenges of our time. AI should serve people, not the other way around.
In the current context, I am also concerned about the development around disinformation and deep fakes. This danger will gain urgency due to the political mood and the upcoming elections. Trump’s US election in 2016, which was largely won by working with Cambridge Analytica, was the point at which I decided to make my lateral move into the digital scene. I couldn’t stand watching the unregulated use of AI endanger our democracy. As a feminist, I worry about our freedoms and fundamental rights. I want to counter this negative future narrative around data retention and chat control with a feminist vision of the future. That’s why we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with society and rethink digital innovations. For this, companies must take on more responsibility and politicians must move forward more courageously.