Financial inclusion is often cited as a reason for the search for innovation in cryptomonics and blockchain. With gatekeepers monopolizing the global financial scene, several disenfranchised demographic groups have been cut off from viable channels of economic prosperity.
Crypto and blockchain products are opening up international payment corridors, ensuring the democratization of the world economy. Other platforms are creating solutions to solve development problems in historically disenfranchised regions, such as Africa. As an inherently open ecosystem, crypto and blockchain innovation continues to spread to different corners of the world, and organizations in the sector tend to have a global workforce with team members of diverse nationalities.
Amidst the momentum of economic and technological upgrading itself comes the need for racial diversity and inclusion, especially in the context of the current political climate. With all the racial prejudice and discrimination that are dominating the social discourse around the world, perhaps it is time to take a look at how the crypt industry fits into the wider sectors of technology and financial services.
Financial inclusion, cryptology and the developing world
Racial Bias and Discrimination in Silicon Valley
In the midst of the overwhelming chaos that accompanied George Floyd’s death, organizations from around the world added their voices in support of racial equality and the eradication of discrimination based on race. Crypt and technology companies also joined in publishing messages of solidarity with the African-American community. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Jay Hao, the CEO of OKEx, the crypt exchange platform, joined the conversation about racial inequality:
„There is a profound inequality and injustice in many parts of the world when it comes to the color of a person’s skin. This is something that is deeply rooted in society, but I am very hopeful that we will begin to see a change and that we can live in a more just world where skin color is irrelevant.
In the past, racism scandals have rocked US tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others. In addition to discriminatory practices, these incidents have also involved retaliatory measures against employees who speak out against prejudice in the workplace. In 2014, Silicon Valley companies Bitcoin Millionaire began publishing workforce demographics. In the six years since then, the data published by these companies show little in the way of improved diversity and inclusion.
Technology should be neutral, but the reality as it exists today shows a different scenario. Despite being governed by codes and algorithmic logic, the way technological inventions work indicates bias. For example, it has been reported that some automatic handwashing soap dispensers are configured not to detect darker skin tones. Speech recognition technology can malfunction with certain vocal inflections common to certain ethnic groups.
Jacky Alcine, a software engineer, discovered in 2015 that Google’s image recognition algorithm classified images of people of colour as gorillas. Amidst the furore that followed the revelation, Google simply blocked the image recognition functionality for gorilla photos without doing much to solve the underlying problem.
Whether these algorithmic biases are deliberately the result of tool designers‘ biases or simple errors is a matter of debate, but removing them is one of the main obstacles faced in the field of machine learning.