bots against bias…

Research late last year revealed that sources quoted in Financial Times articles were ~80% men, and only ~20% women. To fix this, FT recently revealed a new bot aimed at balancing those numbers, calling it “She Said, He Said”.

According to its press release, “She Said, He Said” “uses pronouns and first names [in an article] to determine whether a source is male or a female”, then it will “integrate prompts into the CMS to highlight any gender imbalance prior to publication and remind editors to think about sourcing at the commissioning stage”.

This follows FT’s previously revealed “JanetBot”, which “tracks the number of women featured in images on the home page”, giving real-time feedback to editors as they change what’s featured over the course of each day. It’s all part of a greater strategy FT is using to try and balance its appeal among both genders.

Why It’s Hot

There’s obviously plenty of room for technology to surface bias in news reporting, and it’s great to see one of the world’s most prominent daily outlets using it to do just that. It’s another example of how technology can help us see things we otherwise might not, and allow us to correct it – effectively balancing our human capabilities.

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Your Confirmation Bias Is Showing….

The mind – both conscious and unconscious is a powerful force.  Past experiences, upbringing and even current habits shape how people react to situations and stimuli. Confirmation bias is a form of cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is defined as

…systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.

meaning that individuals create their own “reality” from their perception receive around them. Confirmation bias is the filtering out of information that doesn’t fit the perception or attitude of the person. If an individual is very pro-vegetarian, they will filter out any information that shows the benefits of a carnivorous diet- thereby strengthening their own bias.

This bias is especially prevalent in how individuals are using social media. With the ability to like or block content, the user’s cognitive bias is amplified, giving that person only information that fits their pattern of rationality.

This same bias can be applied to patterns of health. Smokers for example – who most likely understand the fundamental risks, will filter out messages that vilify the activity of smoking.  People change, only when their bias shifts

 

Why It’s Hot

Confirmation bias is a powerful driver of human behavior, but what if it could be used to alter that same behavior? For smokers, they understand the strength of addiction and the “pain” of quitting. When they see ads showing black lungs their bias filters out that message. Their reality says “its ok, I’m already smoking”

But what if the message hit the bias head on? What if the campaign acknowledged the “suck”? That message would align with the smokers bias and perhaps not be filtered out. Capturing mindshare is becoming more and more difficult, perhaps understanding and confronting bias is a way to breakthrough.

 

Your Perspective…is Biased

People are fascinating creatures. We have the ability to create, communicate and con. Even when someone excels at “reading the room” they can only read what has been “written”, and what if that turns about to be a bit more fiction than truth?

Empathy, especially through interviewing is a valuable tool in finding insight and inspiration. Both the interviewer and interviewee  play an integral part in the process.Those interviews can drastically change the outputs

Why It’s Hot:

I think the line “It’s like 6 totally different people” really captures how we as people can receive and process information. The lesson to take is – dig deeper. We’re all humans, maybe the person you’re interviewing is having a bad day, maybe they just won the lottery…without going in for a deeper dive we may miss the true essence.