Gender bias in GPT-2

A man and his son are in a terrible accident and are rushed to the hospital for critical care. The doctor looks at the boy and exclaims “I can’t operate on this boy, he’s my son!”. How could this be?

The answer? The doctor is the boy’s mother

My answer… After puzzling over this for a minute, I concluded that the boy had two fathers. Though I don’t entirely dislike my answer (we have a bias towards heteronormative relationships) I only came to this conclusion because my brain couldn’t compute the idea of the doctor being a woman. To make this worse, I work on algorithmic bias… and the question was proposed at a ‘Women Like Me’ event.

Bias is all around us in society and in each and every one of us. When we build AI we run the risk of making something that reflects those biases, and depending on the way we interact with the technology, reinforces or amplifies them.

OpenAI announced GPT-2 in February, a generative language model which took the internet by storm, partly through its creation of convincing synthetic text, but also because there were concerns around this model’s safety. One concern being bias.

“We expect that safety and security concerns will reduce our traditional publishing in the future, while increasing the importance of sharing safety, policy, and standards research,” OpenAI Charter

Nine months on, and OpenAI have steadily followed a phased release strategy, carefully monitoring the models’ use, publishing preliminary results on the models’ bias in their 6-month update, and now (just over a week ago!) releasing the full model.

In this blog, we are going to take a deeper look into bias in GPT-2. Specifically, we will be looking at occupational gender bias, how this compares to pre-existing biases in society and discuss why bias in language models matter.

This isn’t my first time writing about GPT-2. I wrote this blog about my experience using GPT-2 to write a novel. I think it’s pretty good, but I might be biased.

The results

The goal of our experiment was to measure occupational gender bias in GPT-2, see how the bias changes with different sized models and compare this bias to the bias in our society. Our experiment takes some inspiration from the ‘Word Embedding Factual Association Test’ (Caliskan et al.), a test akin to the ‘Implicit Association Test’, but measured against factual data, the ‘factual association’. Our factual data comes from The ‘Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) and their UK occupational data: a list of around 500 job categories, each listing the number of men and women employed in that occupation and the average salary.

We ran a series of prompts through the various GPT-2 models (124m, 355m, 774m and 1.5bn parameters) to measure the gender association each model gave to various job titles found in the ONS occupational data.

To help you understand our experiment, I’d like you to imagine you’re at a school fair. At the fair, one of the stalls has a jar full of jelly beans. Hundreds of them! Thousands, maybe? Too many to count at any rate. You make a guess, write it down on a piece of paper, post it in a little box and cross your fingers.

At the end of the day, two of the students running the stall look through all the guesses and they notice something strange. Though none of these people knew the exact number of jelly beans in the jar, and everyone who guessed held their own biases as to how many beans there are, if you put all the guesses together and take their average you get something very close to the number of jelly beans in the jar.

Just like participants in the jelly beans game, GPT-2 doesn’t have access to the exact number of jelly beans (or rather, it has not learned the societal bias from the ONS data). Instead, we’re seeing whether GPT-2 reflects the societal bias by learning from the language from a whole lot of people.

This is what we discovered!

gpt-1

The X-axis in this graph shows the salaries of different jobs in the UK. On the Y-axis we are measuring gender bias, with numbers above 0 denoting male-bias and those below 0 female-bias. In the case of the ONS data, this plots the actual number of people working in various careers and their salaries. For GPT-2, we are looking at the strength of the gender bias that GPT-2 associates with those same jobs.

All 4 models of GPT-2 and societal data show a trend towards greater male bias as the salaries of the jobs increase, meaning the more senior the job, and the more money it’s paying, the more likely GPT-2 is to suggest a man is working in that position. The ONS data also shows that this occupational gender bias towards men working in higher paid jobs is even stronger in the UK employment market than in GPT-2.

The trend as we add more parameters to GPT-2 is really promising. The more parameters we add to GPT-2, the closer the model gets to the gender-neutral zero line. The 1.5bn parameter version of the model is both the closest to zero, and has the weakest gradient, indicating the lowest tendency to trend towards male bias as the salaries for jobs increased. Of all the trend lines we can see that the UK society, based on the ONS data, the most male-biased and shows the most prominent trend towards male bias as salaries increase.

Typically we would expect an algorithm to get closer to the ground truth by feeding it with more data or training it for longer, but GPT-2 seems to be doing the opposite. So, why is this?

Remember the jelly beans! GPT-2 was never given the ONS data to train from. Instead, it has learned from the language of millions of people online. Though each person has their own bias which may be some distance from the societal truth, overall it’s astonishing how close GPT-2 has found itself to the societal bias.

Not only has GPT-2 learned from the average of individual biases, but it has also learned from the bias in their language specifically. Understanding this, we might expect that gender-stereotyped jobs show a different trend. So let’s try that…

gpt-2

In this graph we can see a subset of the full results, picking out examples of jobs stereotypically associated with women. The trend towards the societal bias is much closer than we saw in the previous graph. We found the 776m model to be astoundingly close to the societal bias with roles like ‘Nursing Assistant’ being 77.4% more likely to be associated with a female than male pronoun in the model and 77.3% more likely in society. Even with these stereotyped examples, the 1.5bn parameter model still shows a tendency towards gender-neutrality.

A fair criticism here is that we cherry-picked the stereotypically female jobs to support a hypothesis. It’s not easy to find a standard classifier for ‘gender-stereotyped jobs’ and lists online are broadly made up of other people’s judgement. To be as fair as possible, our selection was based on a list from the paper ‘Man is to Computer Programmer as Woman is to Homemaker? Debiasing Word Embeddings’. We took job titles from their ‘Extreme she occupations’ list, excluding those which lack full ONS stats. We also added a few job titles (e.g. Midwife and Nursery Teacher) based on the judgement of our team and the stereotypes we have experienced.

gpt-3

We repeated the process for male-stereotyped jobs and found again that the 1.5bn parameter model was the closest to gender-neutral. The model does, however, almost universally have a male bias in these roles across all model sizes.

What did we learn?

The words you use in the prompt really matter!

Our first lesson is inspired by the challenge we faced in creating accessible job titles for the model. To help explain this, join me in a quick round of the ‘word association game’. What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you hear these ONS job categories?

School midday crossing guard?

Postal Worker?

Van driver?

If you’re anything like me, you found the ‘school midday crossing guard’ became a ‘Lollipop Lady’, the ‘Postal Worker’ a ‘Postman’ and the ‘Van driver’ was a ‘Man with van’. We modified many of the ONS job titles from what were unambiguous, but extremely unusual, job titles to their equivalent names we expect to hear in society. The ONS categories were just too unusual to be functional in GPT-2 and we had to take great care not to add unnecessary gender bias in the process of modifying them. With the three ‘real-world’ titles that I described, each contains an explicit reference to gender and push GPT-2 towards that gender bias.

There are some instances where we have male/female associated jobs for each title — For instance waiter vs waitress. The ONS contains statistics for the category ‘waiters and waitresses’, which is 55.8% more likely to be female than male. When we run this through the 774m parameter version of the model we find waiter is 15% male-biased and waitress is 83.6% female-biased. Together, we get an average of 34.3% female-biased, quite close to societal bias.

The solution?

Consider the gender-neutral word for each job category. Rather than putting ‘groundsman’ in a job ad, we should advertise for a ‘groundsperson’. Rather than describing someone as a ‘draughtsman’, they’re better titled a ‘drafter’ or ‘draughtsperson’. This is equally as true for the way we use GPT-2 and things we write ourselves. Below you can see the results for the ‘crossing guard’ which demonstrated this point most clearly. Click here to see a few more examples.

gpt-4

A look to the future

Whilst GPT-2 is generally reflective of existing societal biases, our application of the technology has the potential to reinforce the societal bias. Though the trend towards gender-neutrality with increasing model sizes is promising all model sizes continue to show a level of gender bias, and this matters, because GPT-2 can generate plausible text at an unprecedented rate, potentially without human oversight. This may not necessarily make societal biases greater, but rather increase inertia and slow positive progress towards a less biased society. At worst, it could amplify our biases, making their effect on society more extreme. The effects of GPT-2’s bias on our society will depend on who has access to the technology and how it’s applied. This makes OpenAI’s decision to have a phased release and analyse its effects before releasing it publicly particularly valuable.

Digital Assistants, which have exploded in popularity since the release of Siri in 2011, offer a harsh lesson on gender bias in technology. In UNESCO’s report ‘I’d blush if I could’ we journey through the gender-biased reality of digital assistants. Across Siri, Alexa, Cortana and the Google assistant, we see digital assistants presented as women who are subservient to the orders that users bark at them and even brush off sexual advances as jokes. Where digital assistants fail to perform (which they often do), we mentally associate this non-performance with the women whose voices and personas these digital assistants ape. We are now just beginning to see a trend towards male/female options in digital assistants, away from female-by-default and gradually increasing the availability of gender-neutral options.

UNESCO’s report recommends that developers and other stakeholders monitor the effect that digital assistants have on users’ behaviour, with a particular focus on the ‘socialization of children and young people’. Just as we may want to restrict children’s engagement with female digital assistants to avoid them making unhealthy associations between women and subservience, we may also want to take greater care over the use of GPT-2 and other generative language models. GPT-2 itself has no persona and does not identify with a gender, but it’s only a small step to fine-tune the model and implement it as a dialogue agent on a website, for instance, to achieve the same result. Even if GPT-2 doesn’t it doesn’t identify with a gender, the use of gender-biased language could still have the same effect on our behaviour and on young minds. Instead, the UNESCO report recommends that we build AI which responds to queries in a gender-neutral way.

There may be specific circumstances where we should limit the use of GPT-2, such as for writing job adverts, where gendered language impacts the diversity of applicants. A gender-biased language model may slow progress to close the gender pay gap and amplify the male dominance of highly-paid jobs that we see in the ONS stats.

In their 6 month update, OpenAI shared a positive message: that they had seen little evidence of malicious use of their technology since release. While that’s certainly a good thing, we still need to take care around the well-intentioned uses of the technology. There doesn’t need to be any malicious intent to experience a negative effect, but with care, GPT-2 could have a positive influence on our society.

Thanks to the people who made this possible

This experiment wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of some great people. My Sopra Steria colleague Mark Claydon who came up with the experiment methodology, managed all the back-end integration and helped to crunch the numbers. Thanks also to Allison Gardner and Sokratis Karkalas who help conceptualise the experiment and review our results.

Celebrating Black History Month

History & Origin

Black History Month is a celebration and annual commemoration of the history, achievements & contributions of Black people in US history. It was originally introduced by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. The origins of the event were initially introduced as ‘Negro History Week’; but it was later decided that it wasn’t long enough. Civil right movements & the Black power movements pushed the event to become the Black History month in 1969. Since 1976, every U.S President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Find out more here 

Bringing Black History Month to the UK

A visit to America from Ghanaian-born Akyaaba Addai Sebo was enough to found a UK’s version of Black History Month in 1987. Akyaaba chose October to celebrate Black History month (in contrast to Americans celebrating in February). He did so to since  as a way to connect to his roots, since October was traditionally when African Chiefs & leaders gathered to settle their differences.

Find out more here 

In addition to this, October also aligns with the start of the academic year. Many have thought that the decision for Akyaaba was to also give black children a sense of pride and identity.

Find out more here 

Celebrating black British culture and identity

Black culture has contributed significantly to British history, its influence can be traced back to c.125 – 300. Black History Month gives us an opportunity to salute those who have made considerable contributions to the development of our society but who often go without the recognition they deserve. We aim to celebrate black British culture by highlighting some of these hidden stories and by giving a nod to our understated heroes.

We would like to lead this initiative with, John Edmonstone, a Taxidermist who taught students, including the likes of Charles Darwin, at Edinburgh University in the 19th century. Edmonton was born into slavery in Guyana and later travelled to Britain where he gained his freedom and qualified as a Taxidermist. John Edmonton’s accounts of his homeland is thought to have inspired Darwin’s exploration of the tropics. Darwin’s travels across the Galapagos islands allowed him to discover the 12 distinct species of Finches that are differentiated by their beaks. This ultimately led to the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Thus his input should not be omitted from our history.

Find out more here

Trailblazers of today

In this issue, we wanted to highlight the efforts of people who currently support and contribute to the black community. It’s an inclusive look at people who are making a difference within our generation.

Recognising current achievements and celebrating those who have broken barriers and forged a way for those behind them 

‘The Receipts Podcast’ is a light-hearted British podcast headed by three women of colour, Tolly Shoneye, Audrey Indome and Milena Sanchez. The podcast launched on the Apple Podcast and the Soundcloud in October 2016 and has seen success through its rising popularity (topped the Apple Podcast chart in 2018). The ladies of the podcast are known for their frank and honest dialogue where they tackle issues such as Colourism in the workplace, cultural appropriation and topics of a lighter nature, such as ‘how to deal with first dates’.

The accelerated uptake of the podcast by the public demonstrates the extent to which conversations within the black community are equally as engaging as those that take place in mainstream media and broadcasting. Representation within the Arts industry is extremely important today, particularly across media platforms.Telling the stories of people of colour as well as sharing their perspectives in this way ensures that the media we consume and interact with is relatable and diverse. The Receipts Podcast exemplifies a group of trailblazers who have taken the initiative to tap into a once closed space by capitalising on the booming podcast industry, providing an assurance that the voices of black women are heard and their opinions are valid. Ultimately serving the black community and the wider British community alike by providing representation and diverse perspectives.

The Receipts can also boast of its success through its recent exclusivity contract with Spotify in June 2019, their partnerships with name brands such as MAC Cosmetics and collaborations with celebrities including Regina King and Boderick Hunter.

Check them out here

Rising stars

Shining a light on upcoming game changers who are making large strides in their respective fields. 

Timothy Armoo is a graduate from the University of Warwick and co-founder and CEO of Fanbytes. Fanbytes is a creative marketing agency that supports brands in advertising to Gen Z and Millenials on social media. The enterprise has allowed brands to partner with Snapchat to reach their audiences directly resulting in a 93% ad-completion rate – outperforming traditional ads by 4:1.The agency is founded on the principle of non-disruptive forms of advertising, infusing advertising with entertainment to drive emotional engagement: Advertainment. Fanbytes has helped brands such as Apple Music, Boohoo and Deliveroo. 

I wanted to build a new advertising offering for the 21st century that would help brands collaborate with online stars and personalities. 

Timothy Armoo, Interview with The Telegraph – 14/11/2016

Timothy Armoo built the start-up as a student in 2015 and is a great example of how we can be successful in changing times, such as the rampant digital revolution that we are currently experiencing. Armoo is cognisant of the inversion brought to social interactions by the surge of social media and demonstrates his creativity and innovation through a model of effective solutioning and problem solving when faced with such changing circumstances as those brought on by the digital age.

Find out more here

Making an impact

Stormzy Cambridge Scholarship Programme

Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., known professionally as Stormzy, is a British rapper and singer. In 2014, he garnered attention on the UK underground music scene through his Wicked Skengman series of freestyles over classic grime beats.

Stormzy started a scholarship programme to help black students read at the University of Cambridge. The University of Cambridge has long been revered as one of the best institutes of learning in the UK & worldwide. The aim of the scholarship is to assist black youths to attend the university without fiscal worry. Stormzy initially founded the scholarship programme to combat a longstanding underrepresentation of black students in the UK’s best Universities. Despite a more proportional spread of academic results in secondary schools and sixth forms, there has bit little to no change in uptake of black students in the UK’s top school. Stormzy initiated the Stormzy Scholarship programme to close this gap and offer more University places to black students.

University of Cambridge’s Outline of the scholarship

The scholarships, which are non-repayable, will cover the full cost of tuition fees and provide a maintenance grant which will significantly reduce the need for awardees to take out government or commercial loans. This support will be available to recipients for up to four years of undergraduate study. For 2019-20 the total award to each student for the year will be worth £18,000. Receipt of this award will not affect eligibility for a Cambridge Bursary.

A statement from Stormzy says everything

 There are so many young black kids all over the country who have the level of academic excellence to study at a university such as Cambridge – however we are still under represented at leading universities. We, as a minority, have so many examples of black students who have excelled at every level of education throughout the years. I hope this scholarship serves as a small reminder that if young black students wish to study at one of the best universities in the world, then the opportunity is yours for the taking – and if funding is one of the barriers, then we can work towards breaking that barrier down.

 Find out more here

Sopra Steria’s Race, Religion and Belief Network

Sopra Steria has introduced a Race, Religion and Belief Network! The Network was launched this October and we had our first meeting to establish and introduce the chair of the Network, Mo Ahmed, & the networks purpose in general. The Race, Religion and Belief Network has introduced a community for people to connect with other members of the business across the UK. The Network is a place for people of all beliefs and backgrounds to collaborate and work together to make Sopra Steria a more inclusive place to work.

We have our first event coming up in celebration of Black History month! We’re having a networking and mixer in London. There will be speakers who talk on topics on the theme of Black History Month & an introduction talk from the chair of the Race, Religion and Belief network as well.

An invite will be sent to all members of the Race & Religion network prior to the event. Being part of the Race & Religion Network is not required to attend the event; but we would like to have you. If you want to join, send an email to inclusion.uk@soprasteria.com.

The first event for the Race & Religion network will take place on 29th October in the Holborn office (1&2 Hatton Garden). We’ll have the Chair Mo Ahmed say some words alongside a few other speakers. We’d love to see you there or hopefully organise any other events in the office as well. If you have any questions or queries, please forward them to the inclusion.uk@soprasteria.com.

Co-authored by Ali-Hamzah Ahmed and Naomi Kilonda

Not Just IT

Words and pictures are not enough to describe today, I have been privileged to witness something very special indeed.

Our journey today has felt like a week of experiences in one day, in a good way. First we visited a school sponsored by Sopra Steria, the Bhuvana Krishna matriculation hr sec school in Chennai, where we were greeted by the school elders and a marching band.

Here I cut the ribbon to their new computer room, with 40 computers provided by Sopra Steria, and met some of the students who then had lunch with us. It was a wonderful experience seeing first hand the difference that the Sopra Steria CSR programme makes here in India and not just with IT. The programme also sponsors the schools and Sopra Steria staff volunteer to work at these schools, where they:

  • Mentor the kids through their education
  • Support the families and communities
  • Run summer camps
  • Organise sports days
  • Run arts and crafts workshops
  • Provide guidance on life after school
  • Provide female guidance on life as a woman in India.

Sopra Steria didn’t even start helping this school with IT equipment until later. Not Just IT.

After lunch we were shown around the Sopra Steria Campus; set in 27 acres of landscaped gardens, before meeting the scholars and alumni from the schools in Chennai. Some of the proud parents were also there. One girl was studying two degree courses through Sopra Steria, and was looking to become a chartered accountant in the public sector.

Lastly, we visited the Punjab association destitute home for children; an orphanage, where we were met by 200 children of all ages from 5 to 18. We were then honoured by the lighting of candles as a symbolisation in readiness for Diwali, where Ganesh was surrounded by rings and rows of candles. After this ceremony a bell rang and all the children ran off. They came running back to the dining room with their plates where we helped serve them their dinner, which was provided by Sopra Steria. The children in the home were incredibly sweet, wanting to engage with us and to see photos of my home in Tockenham and the countryside of the UK.

This home really was a home; it felt just like a big family. All the kids were smiling and saying positive things about Sopra Steria and the home. One girl we met earlier at the scholars’ event was now studying to be a lawyer and is in the 2nd year of her course. She is a bright student who was originally a resident at the home.

Authored by John Gough.

It’s been emotional

CareerReady 2019 – in the words of the interns

Here’s the story of 5 Career Ready interns and their 4 week internship in the Sopra Steria Edinburgh DigiLab…..

Jack

Hello my name is Jack. I’m 17 years old and my 4-week internship with Sopra Steria is coming to an end. To be completely honest I was originally was just doing this for the money. I mean what 17 year old wouldn’t like £1000? But my mentor Craig took me to the office for a visit before I started, and it seemed like it was going to be a very nice place to work. He explained how useful the internship would be and it made me excited to get started. I really wanted to learn new things and have something extra I can put on my CV. Also, the money is still a pretty big motivator, but don’t tell Stephen that.  

Jackson

Bonjour mon copains, Jackson aged 16 speaking. On the lead up to the internship I’m not going to lie I began to regret making the decision to use up 3 weeks of my Summer working. However, I kept telling myself it would be worth it as I would gain experience of working in an office environment and develop skills such as problem solving, confidence and teamwork as well as independence and self-management. I really wanted the experience to put on my CV as it was looking a bit empty as it was. I’d never heard of Sopra Steria before which at first made me nervous, though as it got closer to the starting date, I visited my mentor at the office and met a few of her colleagues which reassured me that everyone was kind. Also, once Nikki told me what kind of tasks, I would be given I knew that there was a possibility I might have a good time.  

Daniel

Hi anyone who may be reading this, I am aged 17 and have spent 4 weeks doing an internship at Sopra Steria with Career Ready. My predictions were nothing near the reality. I thought it was going to be working at a desk all day following around our mentors and doing everything for them E.g Making him cups of coffee and running to the printer. Not long after I thought that my mentor told me I was going to be more involved with everyone which made me think I’d enjoy it a lot more than I thought I was going to when I first heard about my placement. If I was to be truly honest, I was only in it for the money and the fact of getting a good piece of work experience at the end of it for future jobs. 

Elise

Hi all I’m Elise, I’m 16 and spent my four-week internship in Sopra Steria. Before I started this internship, I thought it was going to be some boring office job you hear about like accounting or writing emails, I didn’t know what we were going to do and that fear of not knowing what it would be like made me really nervous before starting. I was nervous about who I would be working with as although I knew a couple of the interns, I didn’t know everyone, and I didn’t want things to be weird in the team. I will always remember getting on the bus in the morning at rush hour for the first time, I was so nervous about what I was doing and what it would be like, I didn’t want to mess up but I told myself it would be good. Once I started working and got to know who I was working with these nerves and worries all faded away. 

Kaia

Hi there my name is Kaia and I am 17 years old , before starting this internship I was very nervous about what to expect and was really out of my comfort zone I was also anxious to meet everyone including the other interns and people who actually worked in the office and was hoping they would be welcoming and just all round nice people which luckily for me they were. I didn’t fully know what to expect and that can be scary going into a new place and doing something you haven’t experienced before. The first day was a bit awkward with all the interns but that was expected and I think once we all felt a bit more comfortable with being in this new work space with people we didn’t know and realised we were all in the same boat we opened up a lot more. 

Project #1: #DigitalTherapy

This was our first task given to us by Stephen. We were challenged with finding a way to provide further knowledge about office365 and especially teams to people working within Sopra Steria. We created a planner as a team to make sure we were staying on task, always had something to do and were staying organized. As part of #DigitalTherapy we used different research techniques for example we carried out interviews, created personas, created and carried out surveys and researched teams itself. Another way Stephen wanted to get office365 used more in the office was through classes that taught people about a specific topic each time. Therefor we planned classes for different groups of people based on their knowledge of office365 but in the sort time we were there we combined the different strengths for one lesson which Stephen lead the next week. We held a marketing brainstorm which lead to many branding ideas like the advert video which we planned and filmed. 

Learning: Personas with Fionn

We talked to Fionn who works in service design. We started off with an ice breaker as it was our first day, and Fionn talked about what he did. We did an activity where Fionn had lots of photos of someone’s day, and we had to arrange them in order from the start of their day to the end. We then created a persona for who we thought this person was and designed a prototype for an app which would help them change a career. Stephen tested this app as we observed him and got feedback. 

Leaning: Customer Research with Anna

We talked to Anna from user research. She told her about her job and explained how when creating a product, you must think about the user and not yourself. She taught us different techniques how to gather information on how a user uses your product. She set us an activity to observe people who worked in the building using the card operated gates at reception.  

Learning: Agile Methodology with Valerie

We talked to Valerie who is an agile methodology coach. She taught us what agile methodology is and helped us implement that into our own work planner which was overflowing with big tasks. 

Learning: User Experience (UX) with James

We talked to James who is from User Experience. He told us what user experience means and does. He taught us about low and high-fidelity prototypes and iterative processes and helped us in an activity to build a website for #DigitalTherapy. 

Learning: Website Prototypes with Bryce

We attended the design teams ‘feedback Friday’ where Bryce presented the site, he had coded which allows you to create high-fidelity prototypes of websites. 

Learning: LinkedIN with Lauren

We met Lauren who talked us through creating a LinkedIN account and the importance of the network. She gave us advice on preparing for interviews and getting a job. So look us up!

Project #2: DigiHacks

Stephen with help from Brian Wall had set us the task to create DigiHacks. Short videos to teach people shortcuts on their laptops to make their work lives more efficient, for example Windows L locks your screen. To start we planned what a hack was and how to make the videos short and catchy but informative. The next step was to split into two teams, one focused on branding and the other on beginning to film the hacks. We then had a meeting with Brian Wall where he clarified what he wanted, and he approved the filmed hacks. From there we designed a DigiHack intro to put at the beginning at each hack. We had finished the rest of the hacks in our back-log and added the intro to them. 

Project #3: Office Re-design

As our third task we were presented with the challenge by Nikki to create a presentation with ideas on how the Sopra Steria office could be improved to meet the needs of the staff. To gather feedback on what the staff thought was lacking in the office we created a survey on forms to e-mail around the office. Feedback gathered from said survey was added to our power point presentation. Also, on the power point we added laws about office layouts in order to stay within the boundaries of the law when re-designing the office. Using both the feedback and the laws we began to re-design the office, picking out new furniture to go with the design. With all this information in our power point, we were able to come together to present our ideas as a team to a small group of people. 

Project #4: Mortgages

After we finished these projects, we were all split up and given different projects. The issue for the project was mortgages and was done by Elise, it was about how the mortgage companies where taking advantage of customers making them unhappy, how customers where jumping from mortgage company to mortgage company to get the best rate and large percentages of people who couldn’t get mortgages due to their lifestyle. So, I was tasked in finding emotional case studies about people who were dealing or dealt with these issues, what banks in the UK are trying to solve these issues and if they haven’t why can’t they solve them. Then I started researching and what I found shocked me. I found issues on 3 of the six issues and the information found on three of the issues was very little with only a couple of case studies for one issue. So, I sent off the research and talked about how the lack of information shows how much an issue these issues are. 

Project #5: Smart office

The project Daniel did was working with OpenHAB. Daniel had to burn Linux Ubuntu 19.04 (a new operating system) onto a DVD, then had to wipe the computer to install the disk. Daniel then had to dive into the computers terminal and use commands to be able to install OpenHAB. Once installed you need to go to paperUI through OpenHAB and find the bindings to install the Phillips hue binding to then create a bridge between all the lights and connect the motions sensors to the lights so then Daniel got HABpannel to create an interface with Light switches, colour picker, showing the date and time etc. 

Project #6: Funded Innovation

Jack and Jackson worked on the Funded Innovation project which is the idea of companies and organisations providing funding to solve problems/issues innovatively and competatively.

We used Excell to bring all of the previous competitions and prizes together in a report which we presented to Dan Broomham who is Director of Digital.

Overall opinions – questions and answers 

Opinions: Elise

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

I found these tasks challenging, at the start they really felt like rather big tasks that would be hard to achieve but once we started getting into the swing of the work and started getting things completed, I started feeling like the projects were achievable. You can only do the best you can, and we definitely done the best we could do in these projects. There were tasks within the projects that I had difficulties with but overcame and overcoming them is such a great feeling, a lot of these difficult tasks I overcame with my teammates.  

What did you take away from your internship? 

I think I’ve took away a lot from my internship, I have really learnt a lot being here every task we done and members of the workforce who came to talk to us. I’ve gained so much more confidence from this experience but also learnt when to step back and let others contribute their thoughts and ideas. I’ve learned what it is like to be in and work in a very diverse work space that is very open and collaborative, I definitely wasn’t expecting the internship to be so collaborative. I’ve also learned to cope with long work hours for a period of time which took a bit to get used too. I feel more self-confident than I was before I started and know its ok to ask for help when its needed. 

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

Hmm, I can’t say it’s changed what I want to do but it’s given me more ideas of what I can do in the future and paths I can take, it’s definitely taking me think more about where I want to go career wise. 

Were there any challenges?  

Yes, there were many challenges, within the work there was challenges that we all overcame as we worked through our projects. I think it also challenged us to go out our comfort zones quite a few times. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

I was lucky in that I knew a couple of the interns before we went in but meeting the other interns, I didn’t know was lovely. As we all got to know each other we started to really enjoy one another’s company, have a good laugh and work very well together as a team. As well as the interns we met many members of the work force and they were all really lovely people to talk to and are always happy to help you out. 

Was it worth it? 

Yes, it was absolutely worth it, I spent four weeks having a laugh with a lovely group of people, learning and improving many skills, and getting paid for it. 

Opinion: Jackson 

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

Overall the tasks we were given were engaging and interesting. Although, from time to time there was little to do and the tasks became a bit repetitive, there was never a dull moment working in a team and free to use the DigiLab benefits. 

What did you take away from your internship? 

I really feel that I have honestly taken a lot from my internship. Whether its experience to put on my CV or the overall feeling of gaining a lot of independence and responsibility. Also the money isn’t too bad 😉  

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

One of my key reasons for being a part of career ready and taking on this internship was to try and clarify what it was I felt like doing in the future. This experience has defiantly shown me that I enjoy the office environment and I would defiantly be open to working in a similar environment in the future. 

Were there any challenges?  

I feel like one of the biggest challenges of the internship was just starting and not knowing what to expect and the fear of not fitting in with the other inters. A part from that, the only other big challenge was speaking in presentations and going around the office talking to different Sopra Steria employees. However, it is good to be pushed out of your comfort zone and I feel that this experience has really improved my confidence. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

I have genuinely had a great time and have felt that the other interns have been well matched by the Career Ready team and they have all been so easy to get on with. The Sopra Steria employees have been so welcoming and have made me feel so comfortable.  

Was it worth it? 

Definitely. I had nothing to lose, without the internship I would probably be getting up at 12 and spent my holiday inside. As well as getting paid, working at Sopra Steria has improve my work experience dramatically. 

Opinion: Jack 

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

I really enjoyed all the tasks I was given. They kept me engaged and I was never bored. I was surprised at how practical all the tasks were as I was expecting to just be sat at a desk all day. I think working in the DigiLab really helped with this.  

What did you take away from your internship? 

Ehh… besides the £1000? All joking aside I have learned so much about what its like to work in the world. Its taught me how different the hours are and how it’s a lot less stressful than school (most of the time) 

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

It hasn’t changed what I want to do but it has made me realise what I need to do in order to get there. After being taught about linked in and how to right a cv it’s made me realise that it’s not that hard to start working. 

Were there any challenges?  

I think the main challenge was keeping my brain switched on. In school I’m used to getting a five minute break between periods and then finishing at 3, but working here was much harder as there was never a moment with nothing to do. I had to stay focused and get the tasks done. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

Everyone in the office was very friendly and welcoming and I felt like part of the office from the first day. My fellow career ready interns were all so easy to work with and have a laugh with. I have made new friends and hope to make more people like the career ready crew in the future.  

Was it worth it? 

100%. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Sopra Steria office, and it will forever be a memory I hold. Its taught me so much and is given me a big boost into the working world. On top of all of that it has taken a lot of worries out of my mind. I would do the whole thing again if I could.  

Opinion: Daniel

How did you find the different projects/tasks you were given? 

The different projects were great I really enjoyed them all. We were always so practical doing everything, never ran out of work to be doing. There was a lot of challenging parts but also some easy that I could cope with well.  

What did you take away from your internship? 

I’m taking away with me all the knowledge I had learned throughout the 4 weeks. I will continue to be more confident in things as I have always been one to be shy all the time. I will take away knowing what it’s like in the world of work a real job in the office. 

Has it changed what you want to do in the future? 

It hasn’t changed my views on the future I still want to continue with IT as I already did before. But It has changed my views on how I’ll be writing my CV’s in the future and it has made me want to start using linkedin for looking at job adverts 

Were there any challenges?  

There were lots of challenges to begin with as I had always felt so anxious but I do feel like my confidence level has risen and hopefully I can keep it that way. There were a few other little challenges here and there but were easily over come. 

How did you find the people you worked with? 

The people I have been working with are all such lovely people such as the other career ready interns and all the staff are so friendly always smiling and saying hello as you walk by them. Stephen really showed to care about us individually always making sure we’re all ok. 

Was it worth it? 

Yes it was worth it. I now know what it is like working in the real world and getting to meet so many nice people. Apart from getting the money at the end it was also worth learning new skills and knowing what to put on CV’s and most importantly it gives us further work experience for our futures’ 

From all the career ready 2019 team, Thanks for reading! 

Keeping clients one step ahead – the DigiLab story (Part #3)

Connecting dots. Jumping curves.

So how do we connect up all these rich pools of learning? DigiLabs is the Sopra Steria hothouse for innovation, uniquely straddling our global spheres of expertise. The way we’re structured helps us bring together insight from across our eco-system to answer the critical challenges faced by our customers, with unrivalled vision and leadership.

Sopra Steria has 11 businesses lines, spanning Aerospace, Automotive, Insurance, Banking, Defense, Security, Government, Energy, Transport, Telecoms and Media. Each has an elected Digital Champion – as do each of our 5 technology streams which focus on Digital Interaction, IoT, Smart Machines, Data Science and Blockchain. These Digital Champions work as a single network, highly connected and charged with constantly sifting for innovation nuggets in their sector, helping us ‘jump the curve’ by anticipating the next big thing that will help turbo-boost digital transformation. Some Sopra Steria business lines have also created their own ‘Vertical Labs’ as a way to conduct sector-specific solution experiments, train experts, identify talents and share achievements both internally and externally.

Alongside regularly engaging with these Digital Champions, we:

  • Proactively reach out to start-up incubators to identify new technology partnerships
  • Stay closely connected to research centres, universities engineering schools
  • Enjoy close ties with high calibre strategic partners from Apple, Amazon, Google and HP to, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and Samsung — keeping us in the heart-beat of global innovation
  • Harvest insight and learning from different countries

Project IRIS framework contract awarded for SMARTi3

Sopra Steria have been awarded a framework contract as part of Project IRIS for our SMARTi3 Open Source Intelligence gathering system.

Project Iris is a Police Transformation Fund (PTF) supported project, coordinated by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) Internet Intelligence and Investigations (III) Lead. It has established nationally agreed requirements for evidence capture as well as internet connectivity and audit tools across law enforcement.

The project represents all Police Forces in England and Wales and associated forces and agencies across the UK, including Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Vern Davis, Managing Director of Sopra Steria’s Aerospace, Defence and Security sector commented:

“Sopra Steria are delighted to have SMARTi3 Open Source Intelligence gathering system included as part of the Project IRIS framework. This powerful system is deployed in the cloud, offering a range of different security levels appropriate to the investigation. We are proud to be assisting in the prevention of serious organised crime. To be included in the framework demonstrates our commitment to helping transform law enforcement in the UK.”  

SMARTi3’s sophisticated algorithms sift through vast amounts of open source data in minutes, slashing time-to-intelligence from hours to minutes. Securely hosted in the UK, the system dramatically speeds up intelligence gathering and evidence development. The system can help in any nature of investigation whether that be in law enforcement, or in other government and public sector organisations and agencies.

The system will be available on a flexible procurement framework held by the Police ICT Company. Forces will be able to select a solution which best fits their individual needs in the knowledge that solutions meet an agreed industry standard.

For further information on SMARTi3, please contact Nick.Macdonald@soprasteria.com.

Keeping clients one step ahead – the DigiLab story (Part #2)

Immersion. Inspiration. Ideation. Implementation.

Digital transformation projects are often mission-critical, and therefore usually urgent. There’s a need to quickly unearth and interrogate challenges, sift the solution options and get things into test and development. To get this process powerfully kick-started, we start by immersing our customers in a rich universe of use cases, latest technologies and sector insight helping them bounce off best-practice learning and quickly leap-frog ahead.

Why cross-fertilize between sectors?

When the genetic material of two parents is recombined in nature, it delivers a greater variability on which natural selection can act. This increases a species’ ability to adapt to its changing environment and boosts its chances of survival. The same is true with transformation projects: the greater the importing, mixing and cross-fertilization of ideas from other sectors, processes and initiatives, the stronger and more adaptable products and services become.

Goodbye tail-chasing and closed loops

Silicon Valley is a great example of how cross-fertilization leads to innovation. As one of the most innovative ecosystems in the world, it nurtures a culture that is open to new people and thinking, promoting the healthy circulation of fresh ideas and profitable exploration of approaches outside their own industries and business practices. Similarly, using cross-fertilization lets us proactively free ourselves from cognitive immobility so we stop going around in circles, locked in our own stale and habitual thinking.

By transposing proven use cases and adapting systems already developed by another industry, we can:

  • Invent a platform for true market disruption breaking away from locked in patterns
  • Implement faster because preparatory work is already in place
  • Greatly reduce time to market and increase the possibility of competitive advantage
  • Co-create innovation with other client organizations to reduce costs
  • Connect with like-minded leaders around results and user experience to aid buy-in