There are many inspiring people within the AI and data science fields. Today, I’ll share a few that have influenced me in responsible AI. You can read Destined AI’s origin story here for more context (linked here). My own experiences alongside the works of thought leaders such as Dr. Joy Buolamwini, Ovetta Sampson, Timnit Gebru, Margaret Mitchell, Dr. Safiya Noble, Cathy O’Neil, and Alyssa Simpson Rochwerger – have led to the creation of Destined AI. I attribute much of my awareness, knowledge, and professional growth within the AI space to the women on this list.
Dr. Joy Buolamwini
Dr. Joy Buolamwini’s acclaimed documentary inspired me to apply my technical expertise and learn how to build AI. She exposed me to biases outside of those faced in my own experiences. Her film highlighted how few people from the African Diaspora are building AI, so often, differing perspectives are not represented at the fundamental stages of development. The impact of Dr. Joy Buolamwini’s work lies in its ability to unveil biases embedded within AI technologies, notably facial recognition systems. By exposing these biases, she’s sparked a vital global conversation about the necessity of equitable AI, urging industries and governments to adopt more responsible practices. Her initiative, the Algorithmic Justice League, serves as a platform for advocacy against harmful AI, thus making a tangible impact on AI ethics.
As I started the journey of building Destined AI, I was fortunate enough to speak with Margaret Mitchell a couple of times about our mission, goals, and approach to helping responsible AI. Her feedback gave us insights and thoughtful considerations, especially regarding responsible data and linguistics. Margaret’s work scrutinizes the societal impacts of AI and has helped in understanding how these systems can unknowingly perpetuate existing societal biases. Her work has played a crucial role in prompting a shift towards more responsible AI development and deployment within the tech community.
I met Ovetta Sampson at #AfroTech 2022 after she spoke about Responsible AI. Her talk was dynamic and compelling, and the line of people waiting to speak with her afterward spoke volumes. We connected and dove deep into how we can help progress AI forward in an ethical way – helping communities and companies alike. Brilliant at user experience, she has poured wisdom and insights into me every step of this journey and continues to be an impactful and well-respected thought leader in the industry..
Dr. Brandeis Marshall
Dr. Brandeis Marshall has been a fierce advocate for data and AI ethics. I had a chance to connect with her, and her passion for increasing the representation of underrepresented people is evident. She is the author of “Data Conscience: Algorithmic Siege on Our Humanity” and the founder of the Black Women In Data group and the conference. Dr. Brandeis Marshall is pushing responsible AI forward through her research and community efforts.
Cathy O’Neil’s “Weapons of Math Destruction” was one of the first books I read about the topic, and my mind was blown. She laid out a concise rationale for how systems reinforce biases and can exacerbate societal inequalities. I’ve often recommended this book as a good primer for people who want to learn more about bias in AI. O’Neil has fostered a much-needed dialogue about the need for AI transparency, scrutiny, and regulation, thus significantly impacting AI ethics.
Alyssa Simpson Rochwerger
I read Alyssa Simpson Rochwerger’s “Real World AI” right after she left Appen and moved into healthcare. This book helped me see responsible AI principles from a product perspective, making them tangible and actionable. Alyssa is a notable figure in the AI ethics community, advocating for responsible AI development and usage. Her impact has contributed to the growing movement towards more responsible and ethical AI practices.
Dr. Safiya Noble
I read Dr. Safiya Noble’s “Algorithms of Oppression,” and it shed light on the subtleties (others not so subtle), and ways in which technology used all the time doesn’t accurately represent all of us. By delving into the intersections of digital technologies with race and gender, Dr. Safiya Noble has significantly broadened the discourse around algorithmic biases. Her continued advocacy has acted as an eye-opener for many regarding the ethical implications of AI, compelling a re-evaluation of how these technologies are designed and deployed to ensure inclusivity and fairness.
Last but not least, Timnit Gebru. Timnit has been a trailblazer, bringing awareness to issues that might have been overlooked. Her rigorous exploration of biases within large language models and other AI technologies has highlighted the potential harm these systems can inflict on marginalized communities. Her audacious advocacy for greater transparency and accountability in AI research has not only stirred discussions within the tech community but has also been a driving force behind the broader acknowledgment of the urgent need for ethical AI practices. I’ve been inspired by much of her work, from Dataset research to ethical outcomes. She is still trailblazing with DAIR.