Top Stories

December 19, 2018

Digital Ethics

A.I. industry suffers from deep gender gap, World Economic Forum says

A new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests that the market developing around artificial intelligence (AI) has certain problems that look a lot like the rest of the corporate world. The WEF report released on Monday (17 December) found that the AI workforce in the U.S. has a dramatic gender gap, with less than one-fourth of roles in the industry being filled by women. “It is absolutely crucial that those people who create AI are representative of the population as a whole,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, WEF’s head of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Firth-Butterfield said that bias can enter the coding process, so a lack of diversity means “we’re not actually reflecting the population and we have a huge problem.” The analysis found that the AI gender gap is three times larger than other industry talent pools, and women in AI are less likely to be positioned in high-profile senior roles. (CNBC)

Facebook shuts more accounts and groups in Myanmar over covert pro-military messages

Facebook has removed hundreds of additional accounts, pages and groups in Myanmar from its social networks after discovering what it called “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” and links to the country’s military. The social media giant announced that it has removed 425 pages and 135 accounts in Myanmar, in its latest action against users who were covertly trying to push pro-military messages. The content removed included 17 Facebook groups and 15 accounts on photograph-sharing network Instagram, which Facebook also owns. “As part of our ongoing investigations into this type of behaviour in Myanmar, we discovered that these seemingly independent news, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle Pages were linked to the Myanmar military, and to the Pages we removed for coordinated inauthentic behaviour in Myanmar in August,” it said in a statement on its website. (Reuters; Straits Times)

Human Rights / Environment

Indigenous leader urges EU to impose sanctions on Brazil

Brazil’s foremost indigenous leader has called on the EU to impose trade sanctions to prevent ecological disaster and a “social extermination” by her country’s far-right president-elect, who takes office on 1 January. Jair Bolsonaro has promised to increase commodity production by scrapping regulations protecting the Amazon and its indigenous peoples. He has terrified indigenous communities by promising to take their land, designate rights activists as “terrorists” and carve a motorway through the Amazon, which could deforest an area larger than Germany. Sônia Guajajara, the leader of Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APBI) which represents more than 300 Brazilian indigenous groups, said: “We are afraid of a new genocide against the indigenous population and we are not going to wait for it to happen. We will resist. We will defend our territories, and our lives.” (Guardian)

Responsible Investment

Investors plan to grow ESG allocations despite greenwashing concern

Most institutional investors plan to grow their allocation to environmental, social and governance (ESG)-themed strategies in 2019, despite many being concerned by the risk of greenwashing, according to a survey by Natixis Investment Managers. More than half (55 percent) of respondents to a global survey of 500 institutional investors, who collectively manage assets of $16.1 trillion, expect to allocate more to these strategies in 2019, as they seek to generate returns and achieve greater diversification, Natixis found. A similar proportion (56 percent) agreed there is alpha (outperformance) to be found in ESG investing, and 43 percent said ESG factors are just as important as ‘fundamental financial factors’ when studying potential investments. Two-in-five of respondents also have concerns that companies may be ‘greenwashing’ to enhance their public image, the survey suggested. Oliver Bilal, head of international sales and marketing at Natixis Investment Managers, said the survey shows the pressing need for greater regulation of ESG products. (Environmental Finance)*

Climate Change / Policy

Australian property companies step up their climate leadership

Three more major property companies have joined The Climate Group’s global EP100 leadership initiative for businesses using energy more productively. Australia’s Dexus, Cbus Property and Nightingale Housing, all signatories of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, are targeting net zero operating carbon emissions across their portfolios by 2030. Under the new commitments, 320 Australian buildings – including major CBD towers – will be net zero by 2030. The energy savings will be the equivalent of the annual power use of more than 35,000 homes, according to The Climate Group. Mike Peirce, Corporate Partnerships Director at The Climate Group said, “We congratulate Dexus, Cbus Property and Nightingale Housing for their public leadership on the issue and call on all companies in real estate and construction to seize the same opportunity.” (Climate Group)

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Image source: IMG_9206 by Ulrich Peters on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.