5 women advancing AI industry research

4 min read

artificial-intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly growing industry that’s perpetually impressing people with what’s possible.

Those advancements wouldn’t happen without the people working tirelessly to research innovations. Many of the people pushing artificial intelligence forward are male, and that’s evidence of a known gender gap associated with the industry. Concentrated efforts are needed to tackle the problem, but it’s a situation that could change.

The five women here are among those leading the way in AI research and inspiring everyone by their dedication.

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Dr. Hanna Wallach

Dr. Hanna Wallach specializes in machine learning and natural language processing methods related to computational social science. Some of the topics she studies include fairness and transparency associated with machine learning.

Wallach works as a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New York City. She’s also an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as a member of that university’s Computational Social Science Institute. Besides earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science, Wallach earned a master’s degree in cognitive science and a Ph.D. in machine learning.

In addition to helping shape the future of AI, Wallach has spent over a decade focusing on improving the underrepresentation problem of women in tech, including co-founding two organizations related to that matter.

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Dr. Fei-Fei Li

Born in China, Dr. Fei-Fei Li works for Stanford University as a computer science professor. Additionally, she serves as the Co-Director of the Stanford Human-Centered AI (HAI) Institute, which focuses on methods to move AI research forward in ways that benefit humanity and relies on doing so by depending on scholars from various departments at Stanford.

Before she went to the Stanford Human-Centered AI (HAI) Institute, Fei-Fei was in leadership roles at the Stanford Vision and Learning Lab. That facility brings people from around the world together to build intelligent algorithms that help computers and robots “see” and “think,” as well as enhance research about human brains.

Fei-Fei influences the AI sector outside of Stanford projects, too. She’s a co-founder and chairperson at AI4ALL, a national nonprofit organization called that seeks to make AI education more inclusive and diverse. One of the ways AI4All pursues this goal is by offering an open learning platform where people can get free educational materials about AI.

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Dr. Kate Darling

Dr. Kate Darling calls herself “Mistress of Machines,” and that nickname makes sense given her background. While working as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, she capitalizes on the subject of robot ethics.

More specifically, Darling examines the emotional connections that form between people and machines with lifelike qualities. She also loves investigating intersections between robotics and society, which is crucial as AI continues to get more advanced, and therefore prevalent, in today’s world.

Darling also has a law background, which has made her well-equipped to act as an intellectual property expert at several universities, including MIT. One of the ways Darling combined her passion and expertise was to co-teach a course in robot ethics at Harvard.

Additionally, Darling wants to ensure people outside the world of academia learn about her work and findings. She’s one of the world’s leading experts in robotics and human-robot interactions and speaks on those topics after getting asked to appear at events.

The New Yorker, The Guardian and NPR are some of the outlets that featured Darling and her work. She holds workshops for interested persons, too.

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Dr. Andrea Frome

Dr. Andrea Frome has enjoyed a fruitful career working with a variety of companies making substantial strides in artificial intelligence. She has also been an independent consultant.

After getting her Ph.D. from Berkeley, she worked at Google for several years and spent three of them on a Street View project that partially involved coming up with methods for concealing the license plates and faces appearing on images taken for Google Maps.

Then, Frome became part of the Google Brain team, tasked with using deep learning for computer vision and research. So, it’s probably not surprising to most that an AI startup offering visual search technology wanted Frome on the team.

The company was Clarifai, which hired her as its Head of Research in 2017. Clarifai sought to develop technology for algorithms that could learn the objects that appeared in photographs or videos, then search for those things in media databases.

However, as of December 2018, Frome’s LinkedIn profile indicates she was back at Google and working as a Staff Research Engineer. An accompanying description indicates she’ll bring her talents to a new Google Brain research lab in Ghana, Africa. That development proves how people with exceptional AI talent can apply their knowledge all over the world.

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Dr. Devi Parikh

Dr. Devi Parikh works as an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, and she’s a research scientist associated with Facebook AI Research (FAIR). One of her interests is to harness the potential of human-machine collaboration and build smarter technology.

Much of her research deals with computer vision, and especially the problems related to visual recognition. Prior to her teaching position at Georgia Tech, she taught both beginning and advanced computer vision courses and an introductory course about computer engineering at Virginia Tech.

Something distinctive about Parikh that also highlights the incredible potential of AI is a section of her website showcasing algorithmic art. Many of the creations feature geometric shapes, and one of them is a doll made of string, complete with various layers.

Parikh also publishes updates about her research lab and a timeline of accomplishments. These details help members of the public stay abreast of what she and her colleagues are doing and how those efforts could impact the world.

The future looks bright

Despite the AI talent gender gap mentioned earlier, these fabulous females prove it’s possible to defy the norm and keep the AI sector moving steadily forward.

Since some of the people mentioned here are exceptionally enthusiastic about increasing opportunities in AI, it may be sooner than people think before the industry becomes more gender-balanced.

It’s also a positive thing that the people profiled here have varied interests associated with AI research.

That reality suggests that there are ways to pursue a wide assortment of topics when working in AI and paving the way for upcoming advancements.

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