Wikipedia for Women (and why AI desperately needs it)

‘Unsurprisingly, I got stuck on Vatican City.’

Interesting piece yesterday in the news about Lucy Moore – a UK academic archaeologist and curator – who has completed a project creating a Wikipedia page for a woman in every country in the world.

“She has now written biographies of 532 women since 2019, when she first became a Wikipedia editor, including scientists, monarchs, activists, writers and women whose faces are well known but their stories are not.”

She started the project in 2021, finished it last week, and is calling for more women to contribute to the world’s largest encyclopedia.

That’s a good thing in its own right, but it’s also important for AI… because Wikipedia has a women problem, and a race problem… and that’s an AI problem, because that’s how ChatGPT was initially trained – on a dataset made up of a vast web-crawl, including the English language version of Wikipedia, amounting to 570Gb of raw text.

An extract from mid-way through God-Like:

We talk about AI becoming more ‘human’ in its responses… or even becoming ‘god-like.’ But the question that desperately needs answering is which humans is it like, and which projections of divinity?

The answer is that we need more people creating good things. And that requires a human response, and a human push for valuing creativity across all boundaries of race and gender. If we allow GenAI to swamp us – and the web – with text that is trained on white men doing Wikipedia or Reddit, that is going to be replicated.

We have to do better, and I’m glad that people as committed as Lucy Moore have been quietly getting on with the task.

Pre-order the book here, or why not come to the launch in Crystal Palace on Thurs 14th?!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *