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When modern seat belts were invented in the 1950s, the design specifications were made to fit the bodies of men, because at that time men were the primary drivers of the car. Subsequently, women suffered serious bodily injuries at a higher rate in wrecks. It wasn’t until this year that auto manufacturers introduced testing with the typical proportions of women to make the driving experience safer for everyone.
This, according to Diya Wynn, is an example of how powerful inclusion is and why every sector needs to prioritize it, especially tech.
Diya serves as Amazon Web Services’s (AWS) Senior Practice Manager in Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is a new but an incredibly important and layered role not only for the company but for society as a whole.
“A tech ethicist is a person that thinks about and advocates for the equitable and responsible use of technology,” Wynn told ESSENCE. “And for me, that’s important because I recognize how beneficial and impactful technology is, but without intentional focus on inclusion and our collective responsibility the potential for adverse or unintended impact can be huge, particularly to underrepresented or marginalized communities.”
She acknowledges that as a Black woman and a double minority there is value in working for a company like AWS that is committed to using its power for good.
“In 2020, I presented the importance of responding to the growing customer need for support in tech ethics to our Professional Services leadership, and they listened,”
Wynn said. She’s held various roles with the company since joining in 2017, explaining she felt seen and heard by AWS when she suggested a focus on responsible use of AI and machine learning (ML) within their portfolio.
Wynn recently presented the importance of the topic on stage during AWS’s annual re:Invent Conference held in Las Vegas on November 28-December 2, 2022, which was attended by more than 50,000 people who aimed to learn, build and connect. In her presentation, she highlighted how deep data analysis and AI should prioritize centering diversity and equity. For example, everything from ensuring photo recognition picks up on deeper skin tones to creating auto-correct functions on our smartphones that include broader gender terms is all underpinned by tech equity.
Emerging technology like ML can also help us become a more inclusive society. For instance, John L. Scott, a real estate brokerage firm, uses AWS’s ML capabilities to strike racially restrictive language from property deeds for homeowners.
“AWS has given me a place and a platform to drive that conversation in a greater way with enterprises building the technologies and products that affect us and be a part of helping to shape what that looks like,” Wynn told ESSENCE.
She continues, “For me, this is bigger than just helping a company. I’m talking about how we start a movement that shapes and shifts how we engage in the world, because technology changes how we engage in the world. My microwave and oven now provide pops-up alerts on my TV signaling when food is ready. I open my door voice activated with my phone instead of a key, all of those things. And those are simple, low-risk applications. So, when we start thinking about it in bigger ways and the kind of life-impacting decisions that are being driven by AI, it matters whose voice and perspectives are included. Tech equity is about considering not just the majority, but everyone and thinking about how technology can produce equitable outcomes that advance all our lives. AWS is committed to develop AI in a responsible way, engage with customers on their responsible AI journey, and innovate to build a more equitable future. And I couldn’t be prouder to be driving part of that movement.”
Click here for more information about responsible use of AI and ML.