Meta created an AI advisory council that’s composed entirely of White men

Meta created an AI advisory council that’s composed entirely of White men
  • PublishedMay 24, 2024

Meta this week appointed a group of outside advisors to provide guidance on its artificial intelligence strategy. The four-person advisory group is composed entirely of White men.

The tech giant said the group, which includes tech entrepreneurs and investors, will periodically consult with Meta’s management “on strategic opportunities related to our technology and product roadmap.” The move comes as Meta plans to invest tens of billions of dollars this year in AI infrastructure, research and product development.

The council includes Patrick Collison, the co-founder and chief executive of financial technology company Stripe; Nat Friedman, the tech investor and former CEO of GitHub; Tobi Lütke, the founder and CEO of online shopping firm Shopify; and Charlie Songhurst, the tech investor who formerly led corporate strategy and drove several key acquisitions at Microsoft. A Meta spokesperson confirmed the group will not be paid.

Despite the group’s significant combined experience, Meta is already taking heat for failing to include women or people of color — or anyone else outside of the wealthy, White, male, Silicon Valley mold — in a group advising one of the world’s most powerful tech companies on a revolutionary new technology. The members of the group are also all in their 30s or 40s.

The situation mirrors an incident last year at OpenAI when, in the wake of a leadership shakeup, it came under fire for appointing a board composed entirely of White men. Months later, OpenAI added three women directors to the board.

Artificial intelligence is poised to disrupt nearly every area of life in coming years, from how we get hired and work to how we consume entertainment or search for information.

The large language models that underpin AI systems are trained on vast troves of data, often written by humans and coming from the internet. Experts say that can create the risk of further spreading all-too-human biases already entrenched in internet discourse, but at a frighteningly larger scale.

And historically, women and people of color have borne the brunt of harms from tech advancements — making their inclusion in decision-making processes all the more important. Already, women are increasingly becoming the targets of nonconsensual pornography enabled by AI. Meta’s AI-generated photo tool also faced backlash last month for its apparent struggles to create images of couples or friends from different racial backgrounds.

Research released last year also suggested that Meta’s Facebook algorithm targets users with job postings based on gender stereotypes, although the company does not allow advertisers themselves to target ads based on gender.

“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, the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, an organization tracking the harms of artificial intelligence, told CNN earlier this year.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the council’s lack of diversity.


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