Artificial intelligence is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., yet a well-documented gender gap in the field deters talent, diminishes potential, and can introduce bias in the technology, which will substantially affect aspects of our economy and everyday lives.
The 2019 “Women in Tech: The Future of AI” symposium addressed these issues and more at a half-day public event at UC Berkeley on International Women’s Day (March 8). Hosted by the Women in Tech Initiative at the University of California, the symposium drew a sold-out crowd over 200 to keynotes, panel discussions, networking, and the presentation of the 2019 Women in Tech Initiative at UC Athena Awards.
On “Accountability in the Future of AI,” panelist Sabine Gerdon, a Fellow at the World Economic Forum, spoke on work underway to address AI governance. “Technological development is moving fast, and a lot of governments are lagging behind trying to regulate AI,” said Gerdon. “So we’re exploring other ways of regulation – such as ‘sandboxes’ allowing for experimentation as well as putting the right institutional structures in place. In the U.K., we’re setting up a center for ethics in innovation, which will be like an advisory body to the government, that looks at certain issues in society related to data ethics.”
Panel 1: Accountability in the Future of AI
Pictured from left: Sabine Gerdon, Jamie Lee Williams, Chloe Autio, Abigail Jacobs, Brandie Nonnecke
Photo: Adriel Olmos.
On “Building the Future of AI,” panelist Rama Akkiraju, researcher at IBM Watson, responded to the question of whether AI is becoming more inclusive by citing a study in a New York Times report finding that facial recognition algorithms were more likely to misidentify the gender of black women than white men.
“It may or may not be inclusive, depending on who builds it and the various constraints with which they build it,” said Akkiraju. “But there’s a practical solution that we can approach and take to address this problem, that is: Set the goals first. What is this AI system supposed to do? What is the purpose of this AI model? If the goal is clearly defined, that goal should transfer into the data collection requirements for the data scientists building the model.”
After a breakout session on “Fostering Inclusive Cultures,” attendee Clara Yoon, a product designer at Tradecraft, shared her personal story. She had grown up in an affluent community, yet her family faced bankruptcy as she entered college. “I feel like I’ve seen both sides of the world. That is why I went into product design, because I realized that there are a lot of people that are marginalized,” said Yoon. “My end goal, regardless of what industry I go into, is to make sure minority voices are being heard – and that is through research.”
The afternoon Women in Tech Initiative at UC Athena Awards presentation recognized outstanding women technologists in four categories. Each award winner also received a Certificate of Recognition from the office of U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA14), a lifelong advocate for women’s equality.
For Academic Leadership, the awardee is Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College; for Next Generation Engagement, “Double Shelix” podcast co-founders Sally Winkler and Kayla Wolf; for Early Career, Maria Artunduaga, founder and CEO of Respira Labs; and for Lifetime Achievement, Barbara Simons, former president of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Pictured from left: Jill Finlayson of Women in Tech Initiative at UC, Maria Artunduaga of Respira Labs, and Claire Tomlin of CITRIS Sutainable Infrastructures. Photo: Adriel Olmos.
Since Ada Lovelace contributed foundational work in computation nearly 200 years ago, women have contributed to the advancement of computing and helped pave the way for today’s artificial intelligence (AI). Today, women are pushing the frontiers of AI in applications from robotics to recruiting, from startups to venture capital. Equally far-reaching are women’s contributions to investigate AI’s social, ethical, and legal implications. For all the promise of new technology, AI can exacerbate negative effects when it reinforces biases and inequalities.
Estimates show that women comprise only 13.5 percent of those working in machine learning, one of the fastest growing technology fields. This well-recognized gender gap continues to deter talent and diminish potential for the field, which will affect innumerable aspects of our economy and everyday lives.
The Women in Tech Initiative at UC imagines a different future.
At this year’s symposium, we will highlight the experiences of women in AI and explore our collective future with representatives from established companies, startups, academia, and the public sector.
The event will also feature the Women in Tech Initiative at UC Athena Awards recognizing those who have championed the advancement of women in technology. This year’s winners recently announced.
The symposium is open to everyone, encouraging a broader audience to join the conversation. Attendees will have the opportunity to share experiences, establish new connections, and collectively champion the advancement of women in technology.
Building Your Network: Mentors and Mentees Led by Beth Broome, Senior Advisor to the Provost, UC Davis STEM Strategies
Fostering Inclusive Cultures Led by Kara Sammet, Founder, GenderLenz& Amy Chou, Corporate Partnerships Manager, AI4All
Supporting AI and Entrepreneurship Led by Caroline Winnett, Executive Director, UC Berkeley SkyDeck
Developing AI for Social Good Led by Roya Pakzad, Research Associate, Stanford Global Digital Policy Incubator
Roadmapping 2050: Humans + Ethics + AI Led by Meredith Lee, Executive Director, West Big Data Innovation Hub and Cathryn Carson Faculty Lead, Data Science Education, UC Berkeley
1:15pmRemarks by Jessica Raedler, Autodesk
1:20pm Panel I: Accountability in the Future of AI
AI is increasingly applied to areas that directly affect human life – from education and employment to criminal justice and health care. While these applications hold great promise, ill-considered applications can reinforce inequalities or have other unintended consequences. This panel explores strategies to better ensure the future of AI is inclusive, fair, and just.
Moderator: Brandie Nonnecke, Director, Policy Lab, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute
Chloe Autio, Policy Analyst, Intel
Sabine Gerdon, Fellow, World Economic Forum
Abigail Jacobs, Postdoctoral Fellow, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
Jamie Lee Williams, Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation
2:00pm Panel II: Building the Future of AI
AI promises to power some of the most innovative solutions across industries and sectors. Meet some of the leading technologists laying the groundwork to build our collective future. This panel will discuss novel applications of AI and its implications more broadly.
Moderator: Betty Bonnardel-Azzarelli, CEO and Founder; Trustee, AB5 Consulting, Women’s Engineering Society, UK
Rama Akkiraju, Distinguished Engineer & Director, IBM Watson
Victoria Coleman, CEO, Atlas AI
Karen Myers, Director, Artificial Intelligence Center, SRI International
Azalia Mirhoseini, Senior Research Scientist, Google Brain
2:45pm Keynote: Building a self-writing Wikipedia by Amy Heineike, VP of Product Engineering, Primer AI. Introduced by Vanessa Kaskiris, Manager, Research Teaching and Learning, UC Berkeley