Girl Power in the World of AI

June 8, 2017

In the technical and largely male-dominated world of Artificial Intelligence, the notion of making emotional connections seems completely counter-intuitive…until you talk with Olga Russakovsky.

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In the technical and largely male-dominated world of Artificial Intelligence, the notion of making emotional connections seems completely counter-intuitive…until you talk with Olga Russakovsky.

As co-founder of SAILORS (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Outreach Summer), America’s first AI summer camp for teen girls, Olga reflects on what she refers to as a “transformative experience.” It was a simple moment that occurred one morning when the SAILORS camp girls were at breakfast.

“Girls were sitting there, braiding each other’s hair…and discussing AI!” she says. “Watching them do something so girly like braiding hair while they were talking through their research project at SAILORS was so inspiring!”

“It’s very clear we have diversity problems in AI,” Olga continues. “If you look around the room at any conference or event, you notice there are minority groups who are missing.” This observation led Russakovsky to conceive the SAILORS camp at Stanford University as a natural extension of her PhD work in AI. When she proposed her idea of a summer camp where AI would be taught to high school girls, her PhD adviser (and ultimately, co-founder) Fei-Fei Li, who also recognized the need for outreach from the Stanford AI lab, jumped at the opportunity and joined her in her mission.

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