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Sinead Bovell

May 12, 2022 by Speakers' Spotlight

Who’s Coding our Future? Sinead Bovell on Why We Need to Pay Attention to Avatars

Sinead Bovell studies the future, not only exploring how new technology is shaping our lives but also how we can create a tech-centric future that works for everyone. Diving deep into today’s biggest tech innovations — from artificial intelligence to virtual reality and avatars — Sinead questions “who is coding our future” to ensure that historical power imbalances and human biases don’t follow us there.

Sinead recently gave her first TEDx Talk at the TEDxRutgersCamden event where she explored why we should all be paying attention to avatars.

Sinead draws attention to Shudu Gram, an up-and-coming South African fashion model. She’s landed several big campaigns, been featured in Vogue, and is an activist who uses her platform to call for more diversity in fashion, Sinead said. Another fact about Shudu, she continued, is that she isn’t real. She’s a digital construction — an avatar.

This revelation hasn’t hurt Shudu’s career at all, Sinead said, if anything, it’s propelled it forward. She’s been dubbed the world’s first digital supermodel. Sinead isn’t surprised to see the digital world transforming the fashion industry, as it will transform many jobs across many industries in the years to come, she said.

What Sinead is concerned about is who’s behind Shudu’s avatar. Shudu is Black and identifies as female, Sinead said, but the person who created her, controls her, and profits from her, is white and male.

“The future is heading in a direction where people can create and control identities outside of their own ethnic groups,” Sinead said. “This creates ample opportunity for exploitation of already marginalized communities, and if we aren’t careful, this can become a massive societal problem.”

Especially as we see avatars expand into more industries and into the corporate boardroom, Sinead continued.

Watch Sinead’s thought-provoking TEDx Talk below as she explores how these new technologies may provide an opportunity to exploit people’s racial and gender identities, and what we can do to prevent it:

Futurist Sinead Bovell is on a mission to bridge the gap between now and the digital future. She strives to create conversations that will lead towards a progressive, informed, and thriving new era.

Interested in learning more about Sinead and what she can bring to your event as a keynote speaker? Email us at [email protected].