Workshop Report on “AI x Gender Online Workshop with Design Thinking”

Akira Tanaka (Research Assistant of the B’AI Global Forum)

・Date: 13:00-17:00, March 3 and 5, 2021
・Venue: Online (Zoom)
・Organizer: B’AI Global Forum at the Institute for AI and Beyond at the University of Tokyo, DLX Design Lab at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, and Go Global Gateway at the University of Tokyo
(Click here for details on the event)

On March 3 (Wed.) and 5 (Fri.), 2021, B’AI Global Forum held the “AI x Gender Online Workshop with Design Thinking” with DLX Design Lab at the Institute of Industrial Science and Go Global Gateway (GGG) at the University of Tokyo. In this workshop, 26 undergraduate students who registered in GGG designed products related to AI and gender. Ms. Tomomi Sayuda (DLX Design Lab and B’AI Global Forum) designed the entire workshop, and the students were divided into four teams for discussions. Each team was facilitated by four researchers from the Design Lab with experience at design consulting companies and four researchers and research assistants from B’AI Global Forum. While promoting discussions in English, the participants used the online whiteboard “Miro” to materialize their ideas and finally presented their images of concrete solutions.


In the first half of each day, there was an opportunity for input before the workshop. Professor Kaori Hayashi (Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies and B’AI Global Forum) explained the relevance of the ambiguous issue of AI and gender, and Associate Professor Yusuke Sugano (Institute of Industrial Science) explained how AI can become more inclusive. Ms. Sayuda also practically introduced what “design thinking” is.


In the workshop, each participant put keywords and images that came to mind from the words of “AI” and “gender” on sticky notes and developed ideas from the combination of picked words. For example, the team, which I joined in, proposed an idea of service that allows users to design their own favorite AI assistants’ voices with a more diverse gender spectrum. We discussed that the AI voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri often have a only female voice with some exceptions, and we proposed this idea. Other teams proposed ideas of Google Maps displaying information according to the needs of minorities, AI encouraging voiceless people to share and discuss experiences of sexual abuse, and AI encouraging policy formation to incorporate diverse perspectives.


I think that students with diverse backgrounds and fields made the discussion which highlighted differences in mutual perceptions, and it enabled to make fascinating proposals that individuals alone cannot arrive. Overcoming the dividing situation between AI issues and gender ones is still fresh for our university, and I feel that it would be desirable to practice workshop like this repeatedly, not just this once.