Show me your DATA, and I’ll show you MINE.
The gauntlet has been laid. Show me your data and I’ll show you mine.
Today we are bombarded with algorithms, machine learning, and face recognition. From social media to car insurance pricing, the technological gatekeepers are vigilant. Even in fashion, technology is leading the way. I recently attended MAGIC in Las Vegas on the behalf of a client. If you are not familiar with MAGIC, it’s one of the biggest fashion trades shows, with wholesalers, retailers, and other fashion related things. I discovered comment buying for social media platforms, and mirrors that scan your body and allow you to digitally try on clothes
What do these have in common? Algorithms.
Math that uses past data to predict the future. Sounds cool right? But there’s a problem. What happens if the data isn’t exactly pristine, or biased to begin with? Well, then the statement at the end of the computation is inevitably skewed too.
Here’s an example from a big technology company. They put together an algorithm to look through their resumes to determine the best match for employment. They discovered that the system was rejecting the female applicants. Systematical axing anyone who had attended a women’s college or had listed water polo as a sport. Anything related to a potential hireling being a woman was rejected. How did this happen? Simple, the data set was biased. Consider where you would find a group of people who could be used as a data set to teach a computer the best qualifications in the technology industry. Current employees, right? The numbers were crunched and the finding that only 14% of the technology workers are women, was immediately applied to the algorithm.
Now, the fashion industry.
When you claim to be diverse, inclusive, and open to new ways to look at what fashion means or its impact, I say Show Me Your Data! Because when I look, the body of work shows something different. Well, don’t blame the math. It’s the data. It’s time we change the data set to reflect the results we want. Diversity and inclusion only exist when we make them happen.
I am More Than a Label, check the DATA.
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