Women, Ethics, Robots, AI and Data (WERAID) is a new research group at De Montfort University, Leicester.

We are an interdisciplinary research group, cutting across the disciplines in computing, robotics, AI and humanities, arts and the social sciences. We work with grassroots women’s organisations to identify and research the impact of new technologies on the lives of of women and girls.

In robotics, AI and data institutions the word ‘human’ is used frequently along terms such as ‘humans-in-the-loop’. While we agree that humans-centred technology is the way we need to go as a society, what does the ‘human’ mean in this context? Does the human include women? It was Simone de Beauvior who coined the term ‘default male’ to show that when the word human is used in wider society, the standard is the male human. Unfortunately ethical paradigms still operate on the ‘default male’ principle. At WERAID we want to change that and make sure that when we talk about our collective humanity it includes women.

Our first step is to look at technologies and ask how they impact on the lives and lived experiences of women and girls. Are these technologies really beneficial to women? When we consider the lives of women we have to factor in male power over women’s sex, sexuality and reproduction. We consider the sexual objectification of women to be harmful and a significant contributory factor in violence against women and girls. From sex robots, online porn, 3D porn, to upskirting and online child abuse, we consider the way that new technologies allow power, control and violence to be exercised over the lives of women and girls in new ways. We want to address these glaring problems at WERAID.

Information on our launch meeting in early 2021 will be posted soon.

Please get in touch for further information.