Now let’s assume this kid is not human but a network of artificial neurons. The parents, neighbors and friends are replaced by scientists, training this artificial brain similar to how a child’s brain is trained by its social environment. And now let’s assume all those scientists have the same gender, cultural background, beliefs and age. What do you think will happen with this artificial brain?
There’s not much guess work to be done here, there are already real-life examples where a lack of diversity lead to fatal mistakes of an AI prediction. Remember one of the first face recognition algorithms? It was unable to classify anyone other than white males as “human”. Guess what the team of engineers training that AI looked like... A HR recruiting tool made the news because it eliminated women as applicants for a software engineer position. Based on the data it got, it “assumed” that a good software engineer needs to be a man (why? Because all of the other software engineers working for that company where male).
Even though AI is the most discussed example of biased data at the moment, it doesn’t end there. The most beautiful UI can go horribly wrong if the diversity of the actual target group is disregarded. And if a product or design team only consists of people of the same age, gender and cultural background how are they supposed to consider all the different kinds of people who end up using their product? Follow-up question: have you ever noticed that in most drop downs concerning gender the word “male” is always before the word “female”? Or that most drop downs end with these two options? If the design team was more diverse, something like this wouldn't even make it to implementation.
These are just a few examples of how technology benefits from diverse teams. But diverse opinions, experiences and skill sets are vital for every team for the exact same reasons. Agility only works when organizations are willing to take control from the top management and distribute it to the teams. So, it is crucial for those teams to be able to make difficult decisions on their own and consider as many options and angles as possible. Because – let's face it – we are all biased one way or another, based on our upbringing, education and peer groups. That’s a fact that we can’t change. We can choose to stop ignoring it, though, and bring people with different bias together and start discussions. Team members will start to challenge each other, giving them room to grow, both professionally and personally. And a team that grows will inevitably improve.