Women Changing the Face of AI

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Deepak Amirtha Raj

Deepak Amirtha Raj

Deepak is a Research Analyst with expertise in Business Strategy and Technology. His research covers Artificial intelligence, Virtual and Augmented reality, Machine learning, Big data analytics and Market Strategy. You can find him playing guitar and writing gospel songs in his band "The Brotherhood”. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Artificial intelligence is still in its infancy but has become the most disruptive technology since the Internet. AI will be everywhere — in your phone, in your home, supporting the human mind in the pursuit to make the world better and our way of life even easier. Intelligent programs already track your online activity, find your face in Facebook photos, and help you with your finances. Within the next few decades, they’ll completely control your car and monitor your health. One day, an AI may even be your favorite artist.

Technology giants are cashing in on this next big industry. As an example, Facebook has an AI lab of over 50-people. Google, with the acquisition of DeepMind team is looking for a breakthrough in AI that could change history. Google’s DeepMind defeated legendary Go (an ancient Chinese board game that has long been considered one of the great challenges faced by AI) player Lee Se-dol in the historic victory earlier this month. IBM has bet billions on the success of Watson,its Jeopardy question-answering supercomputer and ROSS,the World’s first intelligent attorney. Elsewhere, Elon Musk wants to start selling self-driving cars next year. His company, Tesla and other car manufacturers like Honda, Nissan, Ford and more are testing semi-autonomous cars.

The Problem

Explanations abound. Some say the industry is masculine by design. Others claim computer culture is unwelcoming and even hostile to women. According to a recent review by Deloitte, in the United Kingdom in 2013, only 18 percent of computer professionals were women. The same review stated that the industry has a lot of opportunities but far fewer female participation. If you were a computer and read all the AI articles and extracted out the names that are quoted, I guarantee you that women rarely show up.

Margaret Mitchell, the only female researcher at Microsoft’s cognition group calls it as a “Sea of Dudes” problem. Margaret estimates she’s worked with as many as 10 or so women over the past five years and hundreds of men. Computers learn when they are fed data that reflects the world around them. Given the preponderance of men in the industry, they are the ones determining the information in the datasets that the computers are analyzing. This could give rise to intelligent machines that are inherently biased toward the questions prepared by male researchers.

The Future of Women in the AI industry

Taking a Technology From Science Fiction to Reality: Women Changing the Face of AI

Women have very good understanding of human behavior. As we see more technology based AI applications, it would be natural for women to enter the field of AI. In spite of fewer women pursuing careers in artificial intelligence, a number of women scientists like Ashwini Asokan (CEO, Mad Street Den), Fei-Fei Li (Director, Artificial Intelligence Lab and Vision Lab), Propa Ghosh (Medical Director of Robotic Surgical Services at Hunterdon Medical Center) and Kate Darling (Research Specialist at MIT Media Lab) are already advancing in the range of applications for robotics and artificial intelligence.

I have recently seen many young women interested and motivated to learn more about AI. This is not just because the industry needs them but also that they are ready to break their barriers along their way than ever before. I believe diversity in teams brings diversity in thought, which in turn brings better outcomes. One of the most noteworthy challenges going forward is not only to create programs that support women, but also to ensure that they’re gaining visibility throughout the industry. I believe there is an urgent need to get more women involved. It’s crucial that AI is inherently built with equality at its core.

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Deepak Amirtha Raj

Deepak Amirtha Raj

Deepak is a Research Analyst with expertise in Business Strategy and Technology. His research covers Artificial intelligence, Virtual and Augmented reality, Machine learning, Big data analytics and Market Strategy. You can find him playing guitar and writing gospel songs in his band "The Brotherhood”. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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