Technology companies need to diversify their hiring practices to include more people from backgrounds in philosophy and psychology if they want to tackle the problem of misinformation online, the head of one of the biggest internet charities has warned.
Mitchell Baker, head of the Mozilla Foundation, has warned that hiring employees who mainly come from Stem – science, technology, engineering and maths – will produce a new generation of technologists with the same blindspots as those who are currently in charge, a move that will “come back to bite us”.
“Stem is a necessity, and educating more people in Stem topics clearly critical,” Baker told the Guardian. “Every student of today needs some higher level of literacy across the Stem bases.
“But one thing that’s happened in 2018 is that we’ve looked at the platforms, and the thinking behind the platforms, and the lack of focus on impact or result. It crystallised for me that if we have Stem education without the humanities, or without ethics, or without understanding human behaviour, then we are intentionally building the next generation of technologists who have not even the framework or the education or vocabulary to think about the relationship of Stem to society or humans or life.”
Baker is chairwoman of the Firefox developer and its parent non-profit organisation, whose mission statement is to keep the internet open and accessible to all.