Join us for the upcoming Latinx in AI Coalition Town Hall Meeting!

Laura Montoya
Jan 27, 2018 · 6 min read

Latinx in AI Town Hall

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

6:00–9:00 pm

Impact Hub SF

You may have heard about the Computer Vision vending machine startup Bodega, which made headlines last September for egregious lack of empathy for small businesses in community neighbourhoods and for perpetuating gentrification. Their bold threat of putting mom and pop corner stores out of business was the central theme of their pre-launch marketing.

Bodega Startup Backlash

AI in retail such as Amazon Go which just opened to the public, LowesBot and Focal Systems Deep Learning for Retail solution which came out of the Y-Combinator Winter 2016 cohort, threatens to displace workers who rely on their minimum wage jobs as cashiers and inventory restockers to provide for their families.

Fortunately, I had the pleasure of meeting with Focal Systems CEO, Francois Chaubard, recently and he assured me that their technology will improve the employee experience and free up retailers funds to shift employee roles to positions which improve overall customer satisfaction. Retailers who have had cutbacks on greeters and floor representatives would be able to reemploy these positions while the technology is cutting costs and improving efficiency of logistics in inventory and merchandising.

The Focal Systems Shopping Cart Tablet

Chaubard, strongly believes that through their deep learning for retail solution, they will be able to bring the bespoke recommendations and product selections that are the cornerstone of the online retail experience to brick and mortar shopping at comparable cost and efficiency.

Meanwhile, there is already a race divide among the treatment and pay for retail workers which perpetuates racial inequality.

AP/Sarah Bentham — A retail worker in Bentonville, Arkansas, gives change to a customer, August 2014. What Everyone Should Know About America’s Diverse Working Class

Black retail workers share the attributes of the overall retail workforce but face worse outcomes.

  • Like the overall retail workforce, the vast majority of Black retail workers are adults. More than half have some education after high school, and about one-third are working parents.
  • Yet Black and Latino retail workers are more likely to be working poor, with 17% of Black and 13% of Latino retail workers living below the poverty line, compared to 9% of the retail workforce overall.

Retail employers sort Black and Latino retail workers into lower-paid positions and away from supervisory roles.

  • Black and Latino retail workers are underrepresented in supervisory positions like managers or first-line supervisors. Black workers make up 11% of the retail labor force but just 6% of managers.
  • Black and Latino retail sales workers are overrepresented in cashier positions, the lowest-paid position in retail.

A racial wage divide exists in the front-line retail salesforce.

  • Retail employers pay Black and Latino full-time retail salespersons just 75% of the wages of their white peers, amounting to losses up to $7,500 per year.
  • Retail employers pay Black and Latino full-time cashiers about 90% of the wages of their white peers, amounting to $1,850 in losses per year.
  • Retail employers pay 70% of Black and Latino full and part-time retail sales workers less than $15 per hour, compared to 58 percent of White retail workers.

Black and Latino workers face greater costs associated with part-time and “just-in-time” scheduling.

  • Black and Latino retail workers are more likely to be employed part-time despite wanting full-time work. One-in-five Black retail workers are employed involuntarily part- time, compared to less than 1-in-7 white workers.
  • On-call, unstable, and unpredictable schedules pose costs to employees that exacerbate the problems associated with occupational segregation and the racial wage divide.

Retail isn’t the only blue collar industry being revolutionized by Artificial Intelligence

Out of a population of 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. — 3.1 million of whom are commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders 38.75% are minorities according to data compiled by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

Hispanic men make up the 2nd largest demographic of the truck driver population at 14.6%, based on 2014 data.

Motor carriers are embracing and increasing the diverse ethnicity of the current workforce to fill their gaps in employment.

Few autonomous trucking companies, including Google, Tesla, or Uber, are considering the effect they’ll have on the current trucking labor workforce or their families. The one exception to this is Starsky Robotics.

Starsky Robotics Self Driving Truck Controls

Starsky is designing an aftermarket retrofit kit that will give big-rigs autonomous capabilities. The startup says its ultimate goal is to use autonomous technology to allow truck drivers to work closer to home.

Starsky Robotics Office Solution for Truck Drivers

Several groups are banding together to ensure there is adequete representation of minorities in AI

Women in Machine Learning

  • Established in 2009
  • Their goal is to enhance the experience of women in machine learning, and thereby increase the number of women in machine learning, help women in machine learning succeed professionally, and increase the impact of women in machine learning.
  • Host an annual workshop at NIPS

Black in AI

  • Established in 2017
  • Black in AI is a place for sharing ideas, fostering collaborations and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of Black people in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Their workshop at NIPS this year created an intense Twitter debate regarding diversity and political correctness

Latinx in AI Coalition

  • Launched January of 2018
  • Latinx in AI Town Hall Meeting is our Debut gathering!
  • We are on a mission of “Creating Harmony between AI and the Latinx Community”
  • We are creating a public directory of LatinX individuals active in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science to serve as a repository of role models for Latinx individuals outside of tech, and a resource for potential speakers for conferences and events.
Latinx In AI Sponsors

Can you join us on January 30th for the Town Hall??

Register Now:

Make sure your voice is heard:

Do you identify as latinx and are working in artificial intelligence or know someone who is latinx and is working in artificial intelligence? Add to our directory:

Check out our open source website:

Can you join us as a Media partner at our debut event?! Are you interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact Us!

If you enjoyed reading this, you can contribute good vibes (and help more people discover this post and our community) by hitting the 👏 below — it means a lot!


Shaping the Next Generation of AI Engineers and Enthusiasts

Laura Montoya

Written by

Social Impact Entrepreneur, Engineer, & Speaker. Founder @ & @LatinxinAI. Find me @QuickResolute or in/lnmontoya or



Shaping the Next Generation of AI Engineers and Enthusiasts

Laura Montoya

Written by

Social Impact Entrepreneur, Engineer, & Speaker. Founder @ & @LatinxinAI. Find me @QuickResolute or in/lnmontoya or



Shaping the Next Generation of AI Engineers and Enthusiasts

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