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Cannes 2024 – Marché du Film

Industry Report: Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The gender bias in the industry and AI’s role in offsetting it discussed at Cannes Next


CANNES 2024: The first edition of Her Tech Story was focused on the future of artificial intelligence and the impact it is already having on the creative fields

The gender bias in the industry and AI’s role in offsetting it discussed at Cannes Next
A moment during the panel discussion

The inaugural edition of Her Tech Story, hosted within the Marché du Film’s Cannes Next, marked a significant milestone in the ongoing discourse surrounding AI and gender bias in the film and TV industry. Indeed, a panel on this very topic was presented by CONNECT – The Entertainment Tech Hub. Yona Panazol, holding the position of French Touch mission officer at Bpifrance, kicked off the session with a poignant presentation shedding light on the persistent gender bias entrenched within the film and TV industry. Panazol navigated the complexities of AI's dual role as both a challenge and an opportunity in this context. She stressed the imperative nature of comprehending the fundamentals of AI and gender bias, especially given the diverse expertise of the audience present at the event. She notably highlighted the burgeoning discussions surrounding generative AI, lauding its potential to revolutionise the content industry by seamlessly generating original content across various media formats.

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Furthermore, Panazol delved into the profound transformations catalysed by AI across the content-creation spectrum, spanning from ideation to production and marketing. She elucidated the capabilities of advanced AI tools, such as Google's video generator, illustrating how they bolster productivity and creativity for industry professionals and aspiring newcomers alike. However, amidst the promising landscape painted by AI, Panazol did not shy away from acknowledging the attendant challenges, including the proliferation of fake news, concerns pertaining to intellectual property rights, and the ecological footprint of AI-driven operations. A pivotal point of discussion revolved around the prevalent stereotype and gender biases inscribed within AI algorithms, exemplified by the Bechdel test, which served as a stark reminder of the imperative to rectify biases and foster inclusivity within the AI ecosystem.

The panel moderator, Vohla Paulovich, co-founder and COO of PentoPix, then took the reins of the discussion, offering insights into AI bias and women's roles within the technological landscape. Marianne Carpentier, chief innovation and technologies officer at Newen Studios, shared her personal odyssey from navigating the male-dominated terrain of the IT sector in the early 2000s to assuming a leadership role within the media industry. Carpentier candidly recounted the hurdles she encountered owing to pervasive gender bias and her unwavering resolve to combat these barriers, culminating in significant strides towards gender parity within her organisation, which now boasts a workforce composition comprising 63% women. She expounded upon the transformative influence of technology on storytelling, in the realms of both animation and live-action cinema.

Ayumi Moore Aoki, founder and CEO of Women in Tech Global, regaled the audience with her inspiring journey from her native Brazil to the vanguard of tech entrepreneurship, catalysed by her fervent advocacy for gender equality. Moore Aoki shed light on the multifaceted mission of Women in Tech Global, spanning educational initiatives, business empowerment endeavours, digital and social inclusion drives, and fervent advocacy campaigns. Dasha Timbush, founder and CEO of CastingForm, unveiled the groundbreaking technology underpinning her company's operations, which facilitates global talent discovery by leveraging AI-driven script analysis and psychological profile matching. Timbush's announcement of the launch of CastingForm AI, aimed at empowering actors to manage their AI likenesses for myriad applications, further underscored the pivotal role of technology in rectifying industry disparities and fostering inclusivity.

Perle Bagot, a digital expert hailing from a background revolving around communication and the digital economy, shared her poignant narrative of grappling with the gender imbalance prevalent within the tech sector. Bagot underscored the imperative of attaining gender equilibrium and elucidated the nuances of biases inherent within AI algorithms. The ensuing panel discussion served as a crucible for dissecting and mitigating bias within AI and technology, offering a nuanced exploration of both personal and systemic biases. The discourse transcended the confines of gender bias, encompassing broader societal issues, stressing the imperative of fostering awareness and inclusivity within decision-making processes.

Said panel discussion revolved around the identification and mitigation of bias in AI and technology, encompassing personal anecdotes and systemic observations. Paulovich initiated the dialogue by emphasising the broader societal issues underlying biases, and queried strategies for their recognition and alleviation. Timbush stressed the necessity of diverse representation in decision-making spheres, advocating for heightened awareness and inclusivity. Carpentier shared insights into combatting biases in recruitment through objective assessment methods, underscoring the influence of initial biases on decision-making processes. Bagot, meanwhile, highlighted the variability of biases across cultural and contextual dimensions, homing in on the challenges inherent in universally recognising them.

Timbush then recounted some personal encounters with gender bias in professional environments, urging a shift away from gendered perspectives towards prioritising creativity and storytelling in the industry. Moore Aoki provided a comprehensive overview of gender biases within the tech industry, stressing the underrepresentation of women, particularly in AI development roles. Carpentier explored the replication of societal biases by generative AI tools, such as Midjourney and DALL-E, and acknowledged that there had been incremental progress in addressing such biases, albeit admitting that there was still a long way to go.

The conversation underscored the imperative for women's engagement with technology and AI to navigate the evolving landscape of content creation, with Moore Aoki highlighting funding disparities for women-led startups, and championing both financial and technological empowerment. The participants discussed the two-fold challenge of combating biases in AI while ensuring equitable access to resources for underrepresented groups. Additionally, they explored the future trajectory of AI in film, envisioning AI-generated movies as a burgeoning genre facilitating easier content creation for emerging filmmakers.

The panel concluded with an optimistic outlook on AI's transformative potential in the film industry, emphasising the importance of developing requisite skills and fostering transparency in AI algorithms, while navigating the challenges of financing and marketing films in an increasingly AI-driven ecosystem.

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