Disney recently announced they’ll be using GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias, artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed by The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in their scriptwriting process moving forward. The move came in response to years of criticism over the studio’s on-screen history of racism and sexism.
The Geena Davis Institute’s AI, GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias (Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient), will review completed scripts and report any findings of bias, as well as instances of diversity — like how often female characters are speaking, the number of characters that fall under the LGBTQIA umbrella, and representation of people of color and characters with disabilities — in order to ensure films and shows produced by Disney more closely align with the makeup of the world’s population.
How It Works
Colin Ma, a digital marketing consultant who holds a degree in Computer Science (with concentrations in AI/ML), tells Parentology the AI technology will work based off millions of “data points” that have been fed into its system.
“This AI is trained on using speech and character descriptions to figure out the background of each character in a script, with it primarily trying to score how likely it is that a character is a minority,” Ma says.
The AI will rely on the text in the script—- both as spoken by the character and directed towards the character — to gauge “confidence scores.” Ma breaks down what a typical data analysis might look like below:
Character David Ortiz:
Has Disability: 1%
“These numbers are made up, but the percentage represents the likelihood he AI believes a character would fit into these character adjectives,” Ma says.
Why Disney Needs AI Help
Tom Taulli, author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction, tells Parentology he believes gender bias is often unconscious. “That is, a scriptwriter or producer does not intentionally create content that, say, has more male lead characters,” he says. “But the end result is that there is bias anyway.”
Taulli says a tool like this could prove very useful to find red flags, but he is unsure as to whether or not it would be successful at eliminating bias altogether, because the concept behind gender bias would differ greatly from culture to culture.
Ma agrees. “Unconscious bias is a bias that everybody suffers from,” he says. “It’s essentially having biases that you are not aware of and don’t actively think about, and are likely a result of culture and upbringing.” Because everybody suffers from unconscious bias, and everybody has different unconscious biases, a well-trained AI should be able to come in without any preconceived notions or bias and be more objective than human counterparts in gauging diversity in scripts.
Disney May Only be the Beginning
Taulli says that although Disney may be the first major company making a promise to use AI to battle gender bias in its scripts, it’s unlikely to be the only one. “Disney is the clear leader in the film industry, so when it does something, everyone takes notice,” he says. Whether more companies adopt the GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias (Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient), or create their own systems for screening for bias, remains to be seen, but the experts seem to agree that it is a good first step in eliminating gender bias in media.
Disney Gender Bias AI Fight Against: Sources
Colin Ma, digital marketing consultant
Tom Taulli, author of Artificial Intelligence Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction