Talks at Google Tips: The Value of Diverse Perspectives
We're back with our second edition of Talk at Google Tips, a series that brings you summaries of Talks at Google and actionable tips focused around a central theme. While Talks at Google events are recorded and shared widely on YouTube and Twitter, we've curated a list of four tasks focused on diversity and how you can take proactive steps to minimize the negative and increase positive experiences for all. Tips and summaries edited for length and clarity. Opinions expressed are those of the speakers.
Kyra Kyles, Co-founder of Myth Lab Entertainment and former Editor-in-Chief of Ebony
Diversify or Die: Why News Outlets Must Mirror Thier Audience
As the cofounder of Myth Lab Entertainment and former Editor in Chief of EBONY Magazine, Kyra Kyles is an award-winning journalist and expert multicultural content creator. While some may think U.S. minority groups make up only a small sliver of the digital audience, Kyra dispels this notion by sharing that in just 5 years, 50.2% of all children in the U.S. will be “minorities” by today’s definition. For news outlets, it’s crucial to recognize the financial potential of today’s inherently multicultural audience. For example, minority populations spend more time on their smartphones, consuming magazine content, and listening to the radio than majority groups. Acknowledging shifting global demographics, Kyra emphasizes that diverse, multicultural users are not just consumers of content, but must also be deeply involved in the content creation process.
Tips from Kyra:
1. Some media outlets may think there is small, dissenting minority that want to see positive news about multicultural groups. What people actually want to see is factual, accurate reporting—stories that reflect the nuances of the entire American population.
2. Ensure you have diverse perspectives when communicating about any topic, not only when covering topics specifically related to race.
3. If you open yourself to criticism, it shows you are willing to fix it. The problem is when you hide it.
Sara Wachter-Boettche, Author & UX Expert
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithm
Sara Wachter-Boettche, author of Technically Wrong, goes deep into how human biases are reinforced and spread through technology. Sara shares that while technology companies often focus on delighting users, they can overlook important ways they can serve people during times of crisis. She reveals the massive impact seemingly small biases and oversights can have when perpetuated through technology, and offers key questions you can ask to minimize bias in new technologies.
Tips from Sara:
1. We don’t get to decide what circumstances someone will be in when they use technology. We don’t get to decide if someone will be using their smartphone assistant during a crisis— they will decide that. The only power we have is to figure out how we are going to help.
2. The problems that prevent technology from truly working for everyone are not simply bugs. They are systemic patterns that require people to take systemic action.
3. We are experiencing a world where technology influences all aspects of our lives—like what we see online, if we get a loan, whom we marry, etc. This makes it increasingly important to focus on empathy and answer tough questions like, “what unintended consequences might this work have on people?”
America Ferrera, Dr. Rhonda Gonzales, Andrew Herrera, J.C. Polanco, and Daisy Auger-Dominguez
Latin Experiences in America
Former Googler Daisy Auger-Dominguez moderates a conversation with panelists America Ferrera, Dr. Rhonda Gonzales, Andrew Herrera, and J.C. Polanco on what it means to be Latinx in America. The speakers discuss the complexity associated with this term and the nuanced experiences of those who identify with it
Tips from the panelists:
1. It’s important to separate diversity of race and diversity of experience. Both have value.
2. There is so much diversity and nuance within the Latino community. It will never be good business to think of Latinos as a monolithic group. People want to see themselves represented in all stories, not just ones clearly targeting the Latino community.
3. Latinos are influencing and want to push others to be more fluent in this culture—not just how people define "Latino." This conversation is not just about applying labels to a population but about truly understanding the community to create relevant, valuable content and products for them.
Van Jones, Megan Rose Dickkey, Anil Dash, Bradley Horowitz, Nancy Douyon, and David Drummond
Programming and Prejudice: Can Computers Be Racist?
Van Jones leads a discussion with Megan Rose Dickkey, Anil Dash, Bradley Horowitz, and Nancy Douyon as part of Google’s Decoding Race Series, intended to inform and empower people to have open and constructive conversations on race. They discuss the moral and ethical imperative of understanding the role technology plays in reinforcing and perpetuating bias, especially in marginalized communities. Technology can be part of the problem or the solution depending on who is involved in the development and design processes.
Tips from the panelists:
1. Test tools and products in the diverse environments. Tay, a Microsoft AI chatbot launched on Twitter, is an example of what can go wrong when products are not tested among diverse users. It was tested for 2 years in China, but when it launched in the U.S. it offered racist and sexist output on Twitter within 16 hours of its launch. Tay’s quick descent into racism and sexism reflects the importance of testing products with diverse communities who are often the most impacted by unintentional bias.
2. Good intentions are not the end of the conversation, they are the start of the journey. We have to invite experts into the conversation and humbly acknowledge the insights that already exist.
3. Being ostracized, hurt, and not included is a human experience. By understanding that even when you disagree, you don’t have to turn others into enemies, you will have a more pleasant journey and better outcomes.