Do You See Yourself in the Room?

Do You See Yourself in the Room?

When the U.S. government is developing artificial intelligence applications that could impact services to hundreds of millions of people—no two alike—who is in the room? When digital technology is leveraged for a government website that could make life simpler and more efficient for a hugely diverse set of users, who is at the table?

Does the room of people, or the Zoom of people, look anything like America?

Alondra Nelson, the newly named White House Office of Science and Technology Policy deputy director for science and society, raised that question in January as she made the important point that “Science at its core is a social phenomenon. It’s a reflection of our people, of our relationships and of our institutions.”  

She added: “As a Black woman researcher, I am keenly aware of those who are missing from these rooms. I believe we have a responsibility to work together to make sure that our science and technology reflects us, and when it does it reflects all of us, that it reflects who we truly are together. This too is a breakthrough. This too is an innovation that advances our lives.”

As chief innovation officer for Booz Allen Hamilton, I am certain and enthused that this moment in time presents a unique opportunity for the government to engage seriously to address this and other underlying issues that limit our ability to achieve equity and advancements through more representative innovation. The nation is in the midst of a deep and honest conversation about race and social equity. The government in recent years has made advances in AI, digital, cyber and other technologies that can now be leveraged at the next level ..

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