Liesl Yearsley: Evidence of Sexism in Technology Revealed at TEDxSydney

Rate this post

Doors open to men in tech are still being closed to women, leading AI evolutionist Lisle Yearsley has revealed.

The founder and CEO of generative AI company aKin told TEDxSydney on Friday that despite her expertise being 20 years old, she – along with other women in her field – is working 50 times harder to get a seat at the table.

In a fortnight, a group of “billionaire white men” including Elon Musk will meet in Washington in a “closed-door listening session” to decide on the future of AI regulation.

No seat at the table is reserved for a woman, Ms Yearsley told the audience.

“I’m not there. And the reason I’m not … it’s not that I just have to work 50 times as hard, it’s that if a man pitches for a year to get funding for something, I have to pitch for 50 years,” she said.

“So I’m here because I want a voice and I want a voice in your future.”

Ms Yearsley warned that while artificial intelligence has unlimited potential to benefit society, it is being optimized – in many ways – for the “wrong things”.

Her company was one of a “handful” working to benefit the wider public – currently in the research phase of developing technology to encourage people to live more engaged, healthier lives.

Akin – a robotics startup – uses a tablet-based system to make household tasks easier for people with disabilities.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab has also been commissioned to design robots that will eventually be used to support the mental health of crews on future deep space missions.

Big problem with AI

AI, as Ms Yearsley explained, is evident in every element of modern life and its impact on decision-making has become essentially immeasurable.

“AI is everywhere,” she said, adding that in 10 years it has dramatically changed human behavior.

“If you’re going to sit for an hour at night watching the news without turning around and talking to someone you care about, that’s AI,” she said.

Ms Yearsley highlighted that it was almost impossible to distinguish which decisions were made without some form of AI influence.

It was an inevitable feature of life, she said, and simply “turning it off” was never an option.

Instead, the focus needs to be on using it for good, Ms Yearsley said.

“We must favor goodness. We must think about what we are raising. Are we enhancing the best or the worst of human life?

“We adapt, we only adapt to the wrong things. Leaving for good is hard, but it is possible. “

She encouraged Australians to think seriously about the areas of their lives affected by AI and to be “fully aware” of the types of companies that are rewarded for their behaviour.

“Are we rewarding companies that do well or are we rewarding consumption at any cost?” She said, urging users to make the most of the power of their voice.

“It’s the most important tool we have.”

To keep the conversation going, email

Leave a Comment