Historically, the tech industry (much like many others) lacks representation of disabled voices in both The products it develops and the workforce it employs. In this talk, I will provide just one example of the material impacts low representation can have on people with disabilities, through a personal recounting of my introduction to one of Pittsburgh’s new delivery robots. I will trace the robots failure to recognize myself and my wheelchair to larger, systematic consequences. In so doing, I will explore the current trajectory of tech, protections needed to ensure that new solutions are both safe and beneficial for the disabled, and some next steps for creating an equitable technological future.
Emily Ackerman is a 5th year PhD student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Chemical and Petroleum Engineering program. She spends her free time (and sometimes, working hours) on disability activism and the advancement of underrepresented minorities in STEM.
Her recent piece on delivery robots, people with disabilities, and the greater questions they raise around AI and the tech industry.
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