Women in Tech

May 26th, 2017

Women are underrepresented in the tech industry. First Round Capital recently conducted a survey and almost a third of 700 startups never thought about having a diversity plan as a company requirement. Similarly, Silicon Valley Bank found that a quarter of the tech companies surveyed have some form of a diversity plan in place. Facebook, had the best structured plan, but still struggles to level out the diversity field. Even VC companies are heavily dominated by men. Thus, creating a cycle where venture capitalists invest in male dominated startups, and subsequently they higher men to work at their companies. According to Pitchbook, in 2014, 9.7% of partners at venture capital firms are women and 8.3% of startups funded by venture capitalists were founded by women.

 

Possible solutions to increase the number of women working in tech companies include teaching girls at a young age that Math and Science are not masculine fields. Organizations, such as Girls Who Code and Techgirlz, have created avenues for young women to explore and get excited about working in the tech industry. Another organization looking to address the gender discrepancy issue is The Silicon Valley Forum. This past March 2017, it organized The Women in Tech Festival with the slogans, “When we invest in women, we invest in our future” and “That’s the power of the she economy.” It aimed to support, inspire, and empower women in Silicon Valley’s tech industries by providing keynote speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities. The event sold out and the company plans on organizing future events.

Augmented Age

May 4th, 2017

Advancement in technology is leading our world to a new era called the Augmented Age. Humans will be augmented by computational systems to help us think. Robotic systems will us connect to our environment through digital nervous systems. Maurice Conti, a designer, futurist and innovator said that over the course of the next 20 years more change in how we work will occur then in the last 2,000 years. To better understand how this is possible, let’s get a better understanding of how we will be able to get to this point.

Currently, we use cognitive augmentation with passive tools, such as operating an aircraft or playing a video game. These passive tools need directions from designers to perform specific tasks. Designers are taking it a step further and making generative designs. Generative design tools use a computer algorithm to come up with new designs based on human goals and constraints and then search for every possible design using those criteria. This allows the machines to go through huge data sets to capture what a human is looking for to create a final design.

Autodesk is an example of a company that uses generative augmentation. The company is an applied research lab in San Francisco that focuses on human robot collaboration. Humans and robots augment each other in the design phase—thus highlighting each other’s strengths. Human factors are used for perception, decision making, and awareness, the robot factors are used for precision and repetitiveness. The company has been able to achieve designs that they wouldn’t have been able to without working side by side with computers and robots. This has set a precedent of what can be achieved when using generative augmentation.

The drawback in generative augmentation is that computers and robots don’t have the capacity o learn. To overcome this limitation, designers are taking it a step further with research in intuitive augmentation. This technology is being created so computers will have a nervous system and be able to learn and create without directions from humans. The learning and creativity will be augmented cognitively, physically, and perceptibly to create a more efficient world. A partnership between technology, nature, and humanity would hopefully allow us to tackle issues we haven’t been able to tackle as humans alone, such as global warming. This will lead us to a more connected, efficient and economical world.