Women Making AI Less Scary & More Accessible

Insights from Dr. Iya Khalil (GNS Healthcare); Anastasia Sartan & Marianna Milkis-Edwards (Epytom)

The uses of Artificial Intelligence are far reaching and it’s important to have women take the lead in machine-learning initiatives that are geared towards their end user, women. The real-world applications of Artificial Intelligence that women are creating are far away from the futuristic gloom and doom stories you may hear at SXSW about robot takeovers and are bound to improve millions of lives. In the near future, we’ll have even more women to thank for advances in Artificial Intelligence due to programs like AI4ALL, a nonprofit with summer programs at Stanford and UC Berkeley. They give training to diverse groups of high school students, focusing on teaching female, minority, and low-income students. AI4ALL received funding from Melinda Gates in 2017 and is adding four more universities in 2018.

“I’m close to artificial intelligence and it scares the hell out of me,” said Elon Musk during HBO’s Westworld panel at South by Southwest this year. “It’s capable of vastly more than anyone knows, and the improvement is exponential.” Musk cited the example of AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s artificial-intelligence program best known as the first computer program to defeat a professional human player at the board game, “Go.” The AI had been trained to tackle the Chinese game which is a 2,000-plus-year-old abstract war simulation.  In 2016, Google announced that its program had defeated every other Go-playing software — and a formidable human opponent, Fan Hui, a European champion. Then, it bested the world champion, Lee Sedol, four games out of five, in a competition that was live-streamed on YouTube.

The threat of machines getting smarter than their creators is so real, in fact, that Musk calls for public oversight to ensure the technology is developed safely. “The danger of Artificial Intelligence is much greater than the danger of nuclear warheads — by a lot,” Musk said. “Mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes.”

We do not want to be paralyzed by fear.  At the annual Milken conference this week, there was a much more optimistic tone as AI was brought up in many of the sessions.  The conference highlighted some of the positive real-world work being done by women in AI and how AI’s applications are being brought into the present. Women are proving that AI is not limited to the scary future of man vs. machine, they’re running companies currently utilizing AI in healthcare, fashion, and retail; real-world applications of Artificial Intelligence that other women can appreciate and sink their teeth into.

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