Creating Tomorrow: AI takes on the Little Mermaid

AI tracking gender representation in film

Jan Krnc

AI is tracking gender bias in the movies

We’ve grown used to the headlines, good and bad, about the impact of AI on our future existence: the jobs that will be lost as AI automates our careers, the lives that will be saved as AI speeds up medical diagnosis and treatment. Some forward-thinking individuals are brainstorming even more creative ways to use AI to impact the world for the better. Step forward Geena Davis and the GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias (Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient). What that rather long mouthful of a title means in reality is a tool for Hollywood studios to track the gender bias, or indeed any bias, of scripts they’re creating for our screens, big and small.

While the diet of Disney’s damsels in distress that I grew up on – I’m recalling afternoons glued to Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty – certainly didn’t make me any less of a feminist, that it’s Disney who has signed up as pilot partner should be applauded. The move comes as part of the company’s pledge to improve diversity in its creations, and the gradual move away from little mermaids who’ll give up their voice for a man, towards epic adventurers like Elsa and Anna (that the sisters go on an adventure is, I’m afraid, as much as I can garner from the Frozen 2 trailer).

But this isn’t just about gender bias, it’s also about the inclusion and treatment of characters from every walk of life, every background, every sexuality and every ethnicity – or as one news outlet put it “groups typically underrepresented and failed by Hollywood storytelling”.

I’m interested in this story for two reasons. One that Geena is viewing what we see on our screens as a way of driving change in the wider world. She brilliantly explains it thus: “Here’s my theory of change. There’s one category of gross gender inequality where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed absolutely overnight – and it’s onscreen… We can make this change happen very fast. In the time it takes to create a new show or a new film, we can present a whole new vision of the future. Yes, there are woefully few female CEOs in the world, but half of them can be female onscreen immediately.”

But the news also caught my attention because it’s a creative use of modern technology to solve an age-old problem.

On a totally different topic, but in the vein of creative solutions to worldwide problems, last week I attended a Wellness Summit at the Pullman Hotel in London where, among an array of interesting speakers, Dr David Rabin stood out for his work on PTSD, anxiety and depression. His solution? A new wearable dubbed Apollo. Not yet on the market, but arriving imminently, this device – which looks much like your regular wristwatch-style wearable – is designed not to track different body functions, but to actively work on our heart rate variability (HRV) and help tune the body out of a stressed state and balance the nervous system.

I knew nothing of HRV before the talk, but it’s a hugely important indicator of how an individual copes with chronic stress, and while Dr Rabin also has a lot to say about psychedelics and their use in tackling mental health illness, Apollo might well be the more acceptable route to treatment. If that’s piqued your interest, you can learn more here.

Tisserand Aromatherapy wellness

On my shelf: product of the week

We love a good collaboration at WGSN, and the National Geographic Collection x Tisserand hook-up is a great meeting of minds. The products use ethically harvested oils designed to celebrate the natural world, while providing a wellbeing boost.


Hipster boutique offering at the Vera Hotel

Ace Hotel Downtown

On the road: hotel pick

In Tel Aviv to celebrate my birthday, we bedded down at the achingly cool Vera Hotel. ‘Boutique’ in the proper way, it ticked all the hipster boxes, including green juice at check-in and a help-yourself fridge of Israeli wines.

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