My mission is to build up the next generation of AI leaders, who truly represent the multi-dimensional diversity of our world using my skills and experience in computer science and AI.
The field of AI is often intimidating to newcomers. Most are under the impression that participants have to have years of experience in tech to even join. This broad generalization is not only false, but it is part of the (harmful) myth that keeps many out of the field. To challenge this myth, four years ago, I created Affectiva’s internship program, EMPath, developed with a central goal of dispelling the “techie” stereotypes deeply ingrained in our field, so that the next generation of AI leaders can represent the rich diversity of our world.
The only technical requirement for being accepted to the EMPath intern program is one introductory programming class. This simple requirement as opposed to a laundry list of technical acronyms in the job description brings us interns who would not typically be found in other tech intern programs: young high school students, women, people of color, immigrants, students who didn’t go to ‘pedigreed’ schools.
My goal is to help create more student programs like this housed in start-ups and scale-ups, to train up a broader population of young people with diverse experiences, perspectives and skills to execute innovative ideas. I strongly believe that these programs will be instrumental in ensuring that AI does not accidentally become a tool for increasing opportunity disparity; instead, it becomes a force for good that levels the playing field for women, for people of color, for the differently-abled in the new AI-driven economy.
I cannot wait to see how creating early and varied opportunities for success for young people today changes the face of AI and gender, racial, ethnic equity as a whole, one person at a time.