Six Degrees of Integration, Because the World is Separate Enough | CogX
GALFHAM Action Oh, okay. I’m ready now. Oh, man, that’s a lot to running. These nurses, they’re willing? No. No, they’re not enough. Because my mom’s great at running a business. There’s no one like better than us because we’re the best. A woman can be just as good at needing, say, a phone company as a man. So you need to make it more equal and that people know that girls can be as good as boys or anything. Do you agree with gay marriage being evil? You are doing a couple. Of course. I love gay marriage and girl, thank you. Some people think it’s not okay, but I think it’s okay. But it doesn’t matter about their gender or their race. Like the ladies can go shopping together with me and then tell her you’re just a man. If you want to go with someone, you could go with someone. Rubber you like, but if they’re married to someone else, you guys do it. Do you think summering is all ethnic groups are born less intelligent than others? No. Just because I’m this colour doesn’t make me any worse, doesn’t make me look better. It makes me look like me. All it means that you have a different skin colour and what does skin colour mean? Nothing. I bought a Zoom at the ADHD. Some people are getting me a dance day and then I… One of my best friends I’ve been to is a 30-day. I’m five, friends and dissimilar to each other. She can’t see but she doesn’t need walking sticks. She’s just best-funning glasses. Even though you can’t see something, maybe you can have another job that you can do. There’s a Lisa, we’re a child, a rayon, a vision, and I’ve got seven friends. Well, she needs the best thing I ever had. I have Gracie, I have lots of other friends. Me, I’m sitting with her. I need a brother, so of course I’m a friend. Um, we should kinda like stuff. Be kind to each other. Share, share, share. I’m just sure to be angry. Just keep calm. It’s okay to be different. You need to think about things. There are problems in this world that can be solved if you just think things through. And I think that’s all people need to do sometimes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hello. Hi everyone. Hello. I think it’s fair to say the kids are all right. And actually, if we listen to them, we will be all right too. Okay, brilliant. So today I am going to talk to you about the benefits of diversity. And some of the research that I’ve been doing in my new book, diversify. And obviously this panel is about why it’s important to have women in the room when AI is being created and designed. And so I’m going to talk specifically from the perspective of gender and why having women at the table matters. So I opened the book with one of my favorite quotes. And it’s by a man called William Sloan Coffin. And the quote is diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with. And perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without. Now, William Sloan Coffin was an interesting man. He was born into one of the most privileged families in New York. But decided to spend his life fighting for those that were less privileged. And was a civil rights activist and a good friend of Martin Luther King. So in the book I partnered with Oxford University. And we have lots of data and new research on how we better integrate disenfranchised groups and how society benefits as a result. So I want to tell you a little bit about my own story. So I was born into a family of Ghanaian immigrants. My parents came here in the 70s. And when I was a child my grandmother died. And so my great grandmother became my de facto grandma. And she would come to the UK three or four times a year. And I remember as a kid I would be so excited by her trips. Because Ghanaian culture is steeped in mythology and folklore that’s passed down generation to generation via an oral tradition. And I would be so excited because I knew that she would start telling me stories. He’s amazing. Ghanaian folk tales. And one of the stories that she used to tell me, the story of Anancy, the spider. Now Anancy starts out at the bottom of the animal kingdom. And decides that he’s kind of tired of being at the bottom and wants to figure out how to rise to the top. And realises that perhaps the best way to do it is to own the most precious item in the animal kingdom. Which is the stories of wisdom. Now the thing is the stories. At the time belong to the sky god. So Anancy goes along to the sky god and he says, I want to buy your stories. And the sky god says, well number one, they’re not for sale. And number two, why don’t you think a low spider like you could even afford them? And actually what would you do with them? So Anancy persists because the thing with being at the bottom of society is you’re used to hearing no. And you have to figure out ways to turn those nos into yeses. And so he continues, and at that point the sky god is on the back foot because when you’re a sky god you’re not used to being challenged and certainly not by a low spider. So the sky god decides, okay, I will give you the opportunity to try and gain these stories. But they’re not for sale. Because kings and queens from the surrounding kingdoms have all tried and failed. So what the sky god does is he sets anancy a seemingly insurmountable task. And so Anancy goes away, and as I said, when you’re at the bottom of society you have to figure out ways to rise. You have to figure out innovative ways to get the things that those are a privilege in society take for granted. So Anancy is able to complete the task and goes back to the sky god. And the sky god is so impressed that at that moment he not only gives him the stories but he also anoints him as the king of the animal kingdom. And then Anancy shares the stories with the rest of humanity. And here I am thousands of years later, retelling the tale. Now the reason I reference the Anancy story is because I think there are two elements that are vital for success. The first is equal opportunity. Because even though the sky god didn’t believe that Anancy could complete the task he still gave him the same opportunity anyway. The opportunity that he had given even seemingly worthy of candidates. The second reason why I reference this story is because self-belief. Because fortunately though the sky god didn’t believe in Anancy, Anancy believed in himself. And I think when you have equal opportunity coupled with self-belief, anything is possible. Which brings me to my next story. In 1943, a group of 11 African American women enrolled in a war training program titled Women in Engineering at the Hampton Institute in Virginia. America was at war and needed all hands on deck regardless of gender or race in order to defeat Hitler and the Nazis. Upon graduating these 11 women would go across the street to the Langley Memorial, Erin Watercool Lab. And there they would become known as human computers. Tasked with completing mathematical equations that machines were not yet sophisticated enough to perform. Over the years the department would grow and grow and more women would join, including Catherine Johnson. By 1955 the war was over but the Cold War was heating up and America was determined to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. But there was a problem. The Russians had won up them and managed to get a rocket into space. Which meant America had to become the first country to launch. A man into space. But there wasn’t anybody at NASA that could complete the mathematical equations needed for a safe launch. So that meant the heads of the space program had no choice but to go to the human computer department to see if anybody there could help. Fortunately Catherine Johnson could. Her equations would ensure the safe launch and the safe return of John Glenn and the Mercury mission. Her calculations would go on to play a key role in the Apollo missions including Apollo 11 and Apollo 13’s safe rescue. For decades her contribution would go unrecognized. Until the daughter of one of her colleagues decided to tell the story of these remarkable women that she had grown up around. That story would become a New York Times bestseller hidden figures and then an international box office smash, starring Kevin Kostner, Octavius Benzer, Tarraji P. Henson and Janelle Manay. Fortunately for Johnson she would live to see these accolades and was awarded a presidential medal of freedom. My goodness what a difference two years makes right? So in the memories they say, oh yeah. In the UK we have our own hidden figure, Rosalind Franklin. A woman so passionate about science that she made so many sacrifices just to get a seat at the table. She was focused, she was determined and she was obsessive and she would spend over 100 hours and a year’s worth of calculations in order to produce the iconic photo 51. The image that would play such a key role in the discovery of DNA. Unbeknownst to Franklin one of her colleagues Maurice Wilkins would take that image and show it to two of her rivals Watson and Crick. And they would use that image in their discovery of DNA, a discovery that would help the three men win a Nobel Prize. Sadly Franklin would not live to know the impact that her work had had in this major breakthrough. But fortunately history was kind and the truth would come out. So the reason I cite these two examples is because I believe they demonstrate what happens when women are in the room. When women are in the room, progress happens. When women are in the room, breakthroughs happen. When women are in the room, innovation happens. That’s what I ask is that you all go back to your teams and look around and question, is everyone in the room? And if they’re not in the room, then why? But I also think it’s really important that you understand why it matters to have women in the room, where innovation is concerned. So Professor Tom Malone from MIT, he is the head of the centre of collective intelligence there. He and his team have been studying what makes collective intelligence and what makes innovation possible. He has been studying this for the best part of two decades. And when they first started, they wanted to figure out was it possible to measure group intelligence or collective intelligence as they call it in the same way that you could measure individual intelligence. So they discovered that yes, it was possible to measure group intelligence. But then they also wanted to take it one step further. Was it possible to measure group intelligence in the way that you could create models that could then be replicated? And again, they discovered that that was possible. And our first learnt about Tom Malone’s work from the team at Astia, who have been working with him for a very long time. And so what they realised was that the criteria needed for innovation wasn’t what you would ordinarily expect. You would assume that if you want to find the most intelligent group, the way to do it, is to bring the most intelligent individuals together and see if you have a group that is intelligent. That does not necessarily guarantee collective intelligence. So here are the three criteria, vital for collective intelligence. The first was the social perceptiveness of a group. How well does the group understand each other? Is there empathy in the group? Can one colleague tell when another feels slighted? Is there a level within the group where they can understand if there are actual problems arising? The second was the ease of conversation between the group. Did everybody feel hurt? Did everybody feel that their opinions were valued and validated? And was there enough respect in the group to actually pick apart ideas to figure out the best solution? Now the third piece, I think, is vital and so important. Your industry is an industry where data is king and data informs decision making. But for some reason, the third piece of data isn’t being applied. And I believe as a result, you are all losing out. So the third piece of data was the number of women in a group. So what Professor Tom Malone said was in our study, if there were more women in the group, the group performed better. So if you want to have innovative teams performing to their best, then it’s pretty simple, higher, more women. So we need to look at the blocks and why this doesn’t happen. And I think it’s only right that I turn the mirror on myself if I’m asking you all to change. Then I think I also need to look at the pieces within me that need to change. So I was born in a place called Warfenstow in East London. Is there anyone from Warfenstow? Oh, hello. Hi. Are you new Warfenstow or Old Warfenstow? No. That’s fine. That’ll do. So I was born in a place called Warfenstow and I’m an Old Warfenstow. And when I was growing up there, Warfenstow was one of the most multicultural areas in the UK. And diversity and difference were seen as an asset. My school, I would say, was the working class version of the UN. We had people from all over the world and it was something that was celebrated where I was growing up. I just want to say I didn’t dress like that when I was at school. I recently went back to visit. And so from there I went to Kis FM, which is a radio station here in London. And the whole point of Kis FM was about uniting the young people of London through the power of music. So again, diversity and difference was something that was an asset and something that was celebrated. I then went to work on a TV show called T4, interviewing people from all over the world. So again, diversity and difference was an asset. So when it came to this issue, I thought this was something that was second nature to me. So like most British television talent, I decided to move to America to try and crack the states as it were. And a few years ago I was filming in Las Vegas. And a young man appeared on set who was covered head to toe in tattoos. And I immediately felt uncomfortable around him and intimidated by him. And in that moment I was able to understand this issue from a completely different perspective. As a woman of color, I’ve always seen this as being on the receiving end, as opposed to doing it myself. When the disconnect happens, you meet somebody who you assume is different to you and the wall goes up. Well, I’m glad to say that I pushed through my discomfort and I went to speak to him. And yes, he had had a difficult start in life. And yes, he had made some wrong choices. But fortunately our sound man had given him an opportunity and had taken him on as an apprentice. And I couldn’t help but think, if even somebody like me felt uncomfortable around him, how difficult it was going to be for this young kid to get ahead. This young kid who was so excited by what he had to offer, my industry. It’s so important that we all question our unconscious bias, our limiting beliefs that we’ve all been programmed with, in terms of who we think should lead and who we think should follow, who we think should be listened to, and whose opinion doesn’t count. Because actually when we open up our minds in terms of who matters in our society and who we believe has something to contribute, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when we all start to really benefit. So in the book I have six steps that I am calling the six degrees of integration. And these are six simple steps on how you can better connect with the other. Whatever that other is for you. And the first step is about challenging your isms. What are your blocks? What are those unconscious biases? And how can you remember one, be aware of them, and then number two, actually challenge them. And so on the website, diversify.org, we actually have an ism calculator that can help you do just that. Now when we talk about gender equality and we talk about teams that are balanced, none of this is possible unless men have skin in the game. Women cannot achieve equality without the support of male allies. We need the good men to stand up and step up and support. And I want to tell you a story about one of these good men and the impact he was able to have in the world as a result. So Kingman Brewster was the president of Yale from 1963 until 1977. So in 1967 he decided to open the doors of Yale to women. There was much pushback and many of Yale’s wealthy donors and powerful alumni were completely against him. Even so, he understood in order for Yale to survive and still continue to be an elite institution. He had to source talent from the 50% of the population that had been excluded up until that point. The way he saw it was, the concern was not so much about what Yale could do for women but for what women could do for Yale. Now a lot of people get uncomfortable when you talk about targets and quotas and so on. But it’s funny how we don’t get uncomfortable about targets when we’re talking about money. But when it comes to gender diversity, we flinch on it. But if we’re serious, that’s exactly what we have to do. What Brewster did was he set aside 600 places specifically for women. At the time there weren’t many Ivy League universities and role women. So it meant that he had to go to so-called lesser institutions to source the women. Because he guessed that the likelihood of the kind of talent that Yale needed to actually thrive in that institution, chances are they were at those lesser institutions because they hadn’t been given the opportunity to go to Yale. So here are some of the first women that attended Yale. You can see some of the guys aren’t very impressed but some are thinking this is a great idea. And so what was interesting was amongst the pushback many of the professors were actually completely against this. And one professor is quoted as saying, I feel a greater sense of accomplishment when I direct towards those who will one day have a greater role in society. Men. I want to challenge that just a little bit. Because the third wave of women that attended Yale, there was a young law student. And I think regardless of your political persuasion, it’s fair to say that this young law student has definitely made her mark on the world. Without Kingman Brewster, Hillary Clinton would not be possible. Which is why we need men. We need men on this mission. We cannot do it on our own. So to bring it back to your industry, last week I was in Singapore and I had the privilege of meeting Sophia. I hear she’s here again today, gets around a bit, does also. And when talking to Sophia, I asked her what she thought some of the dangers were in relation to AI. And what she said was the thing that worried her most was some of the unconscious buyers that has been programmed into machines like her. And how machines, as we know, when machine learning takes place, the pace at which they learn tasks or ways of doing things, rapidly outpaces what we as human beings can do. I don’t need to tell you this room, that. So imagine what that means when machines take on the worst of humanity. But also imagine what that means if we program machines to take on the best of humanity. Because these machines, perhaps, will be able to show us the way we should be in the world. And I believe that only happens when women are at the table and when women are part of that process. So we must be honest, this stuff is not easy, diversity is only one bit, the inclusion piece is so important where we create a culture where everybody feels valued and everybody is able to contribute. And in the current climate there is a lot of tension, there are important arguments that are happening, important discussions around me to around times up. And I know that there are a lot of men who are not maybe saying this publicly that are perhaps frightened about hiring women or if you can be in a room alone with a female colleague or whatever. And what I say again, the good men have nothing to worry about. Because actually what we need to do is work together to create a new way of being in the workplace and in doing so, benefit and create things that society has never seen. And so to close what I’ll say is female success does not mean male failure, this is not a zero-sum game. And I’ll finish with one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead, which is, every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man, an eye for one look forward to working in a world full of liberated women and men. And fortunately you are the people designing the future, you are the people that can create that. So on that note, thank you very much.