By Ellen McGirt
Updated: October 2, 2018 3:12 PM ET

At Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif, purpose is power—and it matters very much who is in the room when decisions are made.

Consider this panel yesterday on Responsible AI. Deep learning technologies are the changing the world in extraordinary ways, and have become central to way businesses consider the future. In fact, market research firm IDC predicts that by 2021, organizations will spend $52.2 billion annually on A.I.-related products. Experts believe companies will realize many more billions in savings derived from those investments.

If, of course, they’re the right investments. Who will be making the technology?

“When you’re thinking about A.I., for me the data sets are one of the biggest concerns,” said Brenda Darden Wilkerson, president and CEO of, an advocacy group for women in technology. If Silicon Valley wants to make the world better for everyone and make deep learning systems that actually understand the real world, then it must assemble and empower teams who reflect the world at large and can see flaws in the massive datasets that lenders, employers, and criminal justice practitioners rely upon. “I’m very concerned with the people who are negatively impacted,” Darden Wilkerson said.

My colleague Kristen Bellstrom has a full write-up here.

OpenTable CEO Christa Charles also offered a quick and painless benchmark to check how you’re advancing your diversity goals. “Tell us last quarter’s hires. Sometimes it’s hard to [share] a number overnight when you don’t feel like you’re making progress, so just tell us how you did last quarter,” she said at the summit. “Of all the people that you hired into your organization, what was the gender diversity and people of color diversity in that group? That will give a lens into how hard it is for you.”

And if you’re concerned that the momentum started from the #MeToo movement will dissipate, then meet Time’s Up first president and CEO, WNBA president Lisa Borders. Borders, a former vice president of global community affairs at Coca-Cola and chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation, is prepared to turn a once ad hoc movement into a powerhouse organization focused on equity.

“We are in effect hopeful we are going to change the world. We will do it incrementally,” said Borders, who earned a reputation as an advocate fighting for fair pay, airtime and respect for the players of the WNBA. “It will not be dramatic shifts overnight. But we will work in each one of our focus areas and it will be an iterative process.”

We’ve only just begun! More MPW coverage here, and here.


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