The Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI) and SuperBloom Studios in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, a Business Consultancy Firm, has launched an initiative called ‘Hidden Voices' to reduce the Gender Data Gap in Digital Sources. It is making collaboration with IIT Madras Alumni Association and starting the initiative with Wikipedia.
The initiative founders have set a goal of auto-generating biographies of several notable women within the next year, specifically before the next International Women's Day March 8, 2023 comes, thereby making a positive impact on gender representation among digital sources. The team of ‘Hidden Voices' takes pride in mentioning that SuperBloom Studios was co-founded by three IIT Madras alumnae building this practice across three continents.
The natural language models are increasingly forming the basis of various consumer interaction services and the models depend on open web datasets, including Wikipedia. Independently, most people use Wikipedia to initiate their worldview formation on many subjects and it is noted that there is significant value in increasing women's representation in Wikipedia. Explaining the initiative, Prof. Balaraman Ravindran, Head, RBCDSAI-IIT Madras, said, “The project will be an instance of a human-allied AI execution. While the state-of-the-art of Automated Language Processing has significantly advanced there are situations when the AI will make errors. This is especially so when processing documents about underrepresented populations, the very fact that this project is trying to address. Hence, we will take advantage of AI solutions where possible, and judiciously use human oversight and verification to produce high quality outputs.”
“The lack of availability of proper information often creates and cements unintended biases. This is nowhere more prominent than in the ever-widening digital gender data gap. Hidden Voices addresses a critical data gap and builds tools to systematically reduce this gap at scale. Building products and services that are inclusive is at the core of our business strategy.” Elaborating further on this project, Dr Raji Baskaran, Founding Partner, SuperBloom Studios, said.
Some of the major barriers in addressing the data gap include editors' gender and interest and also the contributions from external sources. Hence, the project aims to develop information theoretical approaches, ML-assisted auto-identification and validation of external sources and textual analysis methods to auto-generate the first draft of Wikipedia-style biography. Speaking about the role of IITM Alumni in this pioneering initiative, Mr Krishnan Narayanan, President of IIT Madras Alumni Association (IITMAA), said, “This project comes under our Mission Million Smiles and Women-in-STEM program. A large number of our alumni, especially the younger ones, are digitally proficient and are willing to volunteer their time for such a wonderful cause.”
Hidden Voices is planned to start with generating biographies of women from North America and India who have notable contributions in STEMM fields and tech-adjacent business domains. The team aims to expand expertise areas, geography and include other underrepresented communities over time. The project is hoped to lead to multiple data and analytics-based products and services that could go beyond Wikipedia-gap closure and address the lack of gender diversity in data at a global level.