Category Archives: Travel

16. Rejecting The Patriarchy With Vanessa Osage

Vanessa Osage is a journeywoman. On a voyage of remediation to mend a loophole in the schooling system. One that has concealed the historic sexual exploitation of children. And a governance model – that unfortunately – still fails to adequately protect and serve our most treasured assets. Our children.

Vanessa is a sexuality educator, president of the Amends Project and founder of the Justice CORPS. 

As a sexuality educator, she operates on the fringes of sexual health. Her personal mandate is to pull this conversation out of the perimeter and into the mainstream. She does so by honouring this topic with the honesty and reverence it really deserves.

Her work has drawn criticism. Vanessa, however, is no stranger to critique.

As a child, Vanessa was condemned by her school leadership team for speaking up about an incident of sexual overreach that occurred on school grounds.

Vanessa was in attendance at a prestigious private boarding school in Massachusetts – New England. The perpetrator was the school groundskeeper. When she approached the school leadership team for support and guidance. She was muted. Her story invalidated. Her funding revoked.

The groundskeeper stayed in role until Vanessa returned as an adult. She insisted on speaking at a school graduation event. She hit the podium and valorously delivered a speech that uncloaked the entire cover up.

The aftermath. The resignation of the headmaster. The instigation of a restorative justice programme. Surely the beginning of a journey into remediation? 

Not exactly.

However this journeywoman was not to be deterred.

This conversation explores Vanessa’s story through the lens of a failing patriarchal system of governance and self protection. We delve deep into the social and fragile construct of masculinity. And remind ourselves of why the systematic and – what can feel like – innocent humiliation of boys is the source of these offences. 

We discuss why boys should be taught to embrace and nurture both masculine and feminine energies. And to deny men the benefits of emotional intelligence is a disservice to men as much as those who are harmed by men. Our societal norm however has delegated emotional responsibility to women.

Men by far are the perpetrators and concealers in each and every one of these stories. Traditional masculine values – ones that seem revocable – are now starting to harm us.

This is a conversation – not of sexual abuse, but betrayal. In her own words, Vanessa reminds us that the undertone was sexual, but the overtone was an abuse of power.

We need more conversations that support what it means to be a sexual being, at the time when sexual maturity is happening. And boys should be taught to respect and honour that right.

Vanessa is the embodiment of her story. A seeker. And a journeywoman who in the face of adversity ran towards the sunrise. She journeyed from coast-to-coast with the barebones of an automobile, a few clothes and some basic rations. This revealed to her an America, honest people and an opportunity to heal.

On her travels. Those painfully seasoned eyes were able to see the real gritty honest heart of America. It revealed its tragedy, its triumph and its kindness. Vanessa’s words. Not mine.

This conversation will echo in its eternity based on those three words alone. Tragedy. Triumph and Kindness. For me, that is Vanessa Osage.

Warning: This episode contains explicit language and a topic of discussion that some may find distressing.

RESOURCES

Vanessa Osage: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Bookography
Book: Can’t Stop the Sunrise: Adventures in Healing, Confronting Corruption & the Journey to Institutional Reform
The Amends Project: Justice CORPS Initiative
The Amends Project: Support the Movement
Thrive Global: Vanessa Osage: “Be authentic and imperfect”
Knkx: Boston Globe’s Investigation Into Widespread Sex Abuse In New England Private Schools
Boston Globe: Private schools, painful secrets
Michigan Daily: In defence of the female gamer
CBS News: 11 former New Hampshire prep school staffers accused of abuse
BBC News Feature: The boarding school ‘monster’ who always walked free
The Needle Blog: Brookside School, nr Ludlow, Shropshire
White Collar Week Podcast: Ep. 17: #TruthHeals: Systemic Abuse & Institutional Reform with Vanessa Osage, feat. Guest Co-Host Chloe Coppola

RELATED EPISODES

Episode #10: Correcting Reality with Craig Stanland
Episode #15: The Invalidation of Experience with Candice Mama

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12. Bravery in the Face of Ethical Uncertainty with Olivia Gambelin

The human condition is a complex and unpredictable amalgamation of multiple intelligence characteristics. 

Our ability to make effective decisions requires us to make linguistic, spatial, emotional and ethical judgements. Artificial Intelligence doesn’t yet cover everything we perceive to be intelligence. 

Computer-based data models, assumptions, algorithms and even ethical frameworks are provided by humans. Containing the same intentional and unintentional bias as their creators.

Humanity is accelerating into an age of AI. Increasing our dependency on decision-making machines across the entire spectrum of societal functions, from science to education. Social media on the other hand is indirectly influencing our personal decision-making process. From shaping our political views to the people we like, to the products/services we buy.

How suitable are ethical models in governing platforms, code and architectures to ensure we maintain societal balance?

AI is changing the shape of society. A society made up of a multiverse of cultures. All with their own distinct moral codes and ethical constructs. So how do we apply ethical models to technology when one size surely can’t fit all?

Living in Europe, with so many languages and cultures on my doorstep and an ancestral connection to the Indian subcontinent. I’ve always been fascinated by the construct of culture, from languages to traditions to ethics. In light of our digital acceleration, my curiosity for how we apply ethics to technology whilst maintaining cultural balance is also accelerating.

So, I enlisted the support of Olivia Gambelin – an AI ethicist – to widen the aperture of my lens and qualify what I did or didn’t understand. Olivia is the founder of Ethical Intelligence.

When I first reached out to Olivia, what I didn’t quite expect was this shared passion for the construct of culture. Especially when viewed through the lens of AI and ethics.

I instantly knew we could shape a truly unique conversation. 

In doing so we start today’s conversation by unpacking Olivia’s Italian-American heritage. We travel through conversation to an Agriturismo in Tuscany. Olivia’s love for Italy and her memories of her Nonno are truly wonderful to listen to. 

Olivia’s story around the Agriturismo isn’t just the opener to our conversation but provides a real insight into her persona. One centred around embracing the fear of the unknown but immersing herself with absolute focus. To do so requires bravery. In a field dominated by the male humanoid, a female mindset – one who speaks about culture with such honesty and adoration – is crucial in influencing the ethical models desperately needed to minimise the disruption on society.

Culture is the bedrock of this conversation. It creates a foundation based around linguistics and language that sets up a deep-dive into the different types of ethical models. Culture also provides us with a lens to help define the relationship between the terms philosophymorals and ethics.

There are various touchpoints to the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma and recent events such as the UK exam fiasco and even personality assessments that provide much-needed context to a complex topic of conversation.

We close the conversation by pondering self-aware fictional characters and robot rights. Olivia’s insight will surely provoke your thoughts in this space. 

I felt honoured to have shared this conversational experience with Olivia. She talks openly about her heritage and the challenges of shaping the role of an AI ethicist. A role that is shaping our ethical landscape. From our social media feeds to machine driven decisions that are directly influencing the construct of our lives.

GLOSSARY

Deanthropomorphisation is the removal of a thing’s anthropomorphic nature; making something less human in form or character.

Deontological ethics is when an action is considered morally good because of some characteristic of the action itself, not because the product of the action is good. 

Consequentialism is results-based ethics. Of all the things a person might do at any given moment, the morally right action is the one with the best overall outcomes.

Virtue ethics deals with the honesty and morality of a person. It states that practising good habits such as honesty, generosity makes a moral and virtuous person. It guides a person without specific rules for resolving the ethical complexity.

QUOTES

How do we create a standard that is structured enough, but adaptable enough so it doesn’t clash with cultural values? – Olivia

Technology is a mirror of humanity back onto itself” – Olivia

I want to be the best version of those multiple versions of myself.“ – Bobby

All of those facets of myself are completely authentic. Different cultures allow me to highlight different aspects of myself. – Olivia

Culture is an output of different morals and different ethics.” – Bobby

We each have our own cultures. We live through those cultures. We have values through those cultures. It’s not a bad thing that there’s a bit of chaos there.” – Olivia

Computer-based personality assessments are people covering their backs on accountability. I didn’t hire this person because computer said no.” – Bobby

We need to embrace and approach technology with bravery.” – Olivia

RESOURCES

Website: Ethical Intelligence
Latest Training Workshop: The Equation
Website: Olivia Gambelin
LinkedIn Profile: Olivia Gambelin
Twitter: Olivia Gambelin
Article: Brave: what it means to be an AI Ethicist by Olivia Gambelin
Article: Everything that went wrong with the botched A-Levels algorithm
Research Paper: Robot Rights? Let’s Talk about Human Welfare Instead – Abeba Birhane and Jelle van Dijk
Book: Quality Land – Marc-Uwe Kling
Film: iRobot
Film: WALL-E
Documentary: The Social Dilemma on Netflix

RELATED EPISODES

Episode #9: Turning Ideas into Positive Impact with Mauro Cozzi

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

The best way to support the podcast is to share this episode and have this conversation.

I also have an affiliate programme with organisations that I either work closely with or I’m aligned to their mission. For a complete list of my partners, affiliates and even any discount codes, please visit my partners page at bobbyjagdev.com/partners

CHECK IN WITH BOBBY

Visit me at: bobbyjagdev.com

Follow me on social media: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Thanks so much for listening! If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and rate and review on your favourite podcasting platform.