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ChangeBot: A Challenge with Italgas

ChangeBot, una sfida con Italgas

ChangeBot: A Challenge with Italgas

ChangeBot: A Challenge with Italgas

A Creathon to design bias-free chatbots

What gender is a chatbot? The Fondazione Mondo Digitale and Italgas have formed an all-women’s team to fight against gender stereotypes and develop an inclusive chatbot! 

In Italy, chatbot is a feminine noun in Italian and very often the voices of on-line virtual assistants are those of women. According to researchers at the  Institute of Information Systems and Marketing (IISM) this encourages the diffusion of stereotypes on women, seen as complaisant and remissive [Gender Bias in Chatbot Design].

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? WHAT IS GENDER BIAS?

Very often, the algorithms that regulate the operation of chatbots, such as voice recognition software, present a true gender bias. These are certainties based on stereotypes, like the idea that women are by nature more suited to act as assistants. Often, these programmes are fine-tuned to male needs and requests, because they are programmed by men, probably subconsciously conditioned by gender prejudice.

THE CHALLENGE

So, how can this problem be solved? How can we develop and inclusive and representative chatbot that welcomes and recognises diversity? The programming and preparation of chatbots is fundamental. If the data used in the preparatory phase doesn’t keep in mind all possible beneficiaries, the ability of the chatbot to understand the needs, intentions and motivations of users will be reduced. 

Italgas, Microsoft Italia and Fondazione Mondo Digitale are launching ChangeBot, a Creathon (creative hackathon) for young female university students. The challenge is to create an all-women’s team to fight stereotypes and develop bias-free chatbots

Try developing a stereotype-free digital world with us by completing this form to apply. Twenty-five places are available, and participants require no specific technical skills.

We will be in Milan on October 7. 

Winners will receive a six-month stage at Italgas.

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