Doina Precup is applying Romanian wisdom to the gender gap in the fields of AI and computer science.
The associate professor at McGill University and research team lead at AI startup DeepMind spoke with AI Podcast host Noah Kravitz about her personal experiences, along with the AI4Good Lab she co-founded to give women more access to machine learning training.
Growing up in Romania, Precup attended a high school that specialized in computer science and a technical university. She didn’t experience gender disparity in these learning environments.
“If anything, programming was considered a very good job for women, because you did not need to be working in the fields,” she explained.
It made the gap in Canadian universities and companies even more noticeable. At McGill, Precup saw that female students were hesitant to speak up or pursue graduate studies.
Together with Angelique Mannella, CEO of AM Consulting and an Amazon employee, Precup was inspired to start the AI4Good Lab in 2017.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Aimed at improving women’s access to advanced AI and machine learning, the AI4Good Lab brings together 30 women from across Canada every spring for a seven-week workshop
- Workshop participants take classes, hear from speakers, visit companies and work in small groups to create projects.
- This year’s projects ranged from identifying fake news to using a café’s food supplies efficiently to helping people manage chronic pain.
- To hear Precup’s best sci-fi book recommendations, listen to the podcast for her guide to the genre.
- Visit the AI4Good Lab website or Twitter to learn more about participants’ projects and to apply to next year’s workshop. And visit Precup’s Google Scholar page to see her most recent publications.
“Emphasizing the creativity and the fun in computer science and algorithms is really important, for everybody” — Doina Precup [04:30]
“I also noticed that people were sometimes afraid to speak up in classes, even if they were really good at based on their exams and their assignments and their projects” — Doina Precup [05:43]
You Might Also Like
UC Berkeley’s Pieter Abbeel on How Deep Learning Will Help Robots Learn
Robots can do amazing things. Compare even the most advanced robots to a three-year-old, however, and they can come up short. UC Berkeley Professor Pieter Abbeel has pioneered the idea that deep learning could be the key to bridging that gap: creating robots that can learn how to move through the world more fluidly and naturally.
Teaching Families to Embrace AI
Tara Chklovski is founder and CEO of Iridescent, a nonprofit that provides access to hands-on learning opportunities to prepare underrepresented children and adults for the future of work. We spoke with her about the UN’s AI for Good Global Summit last May in Geneva and the AI World Championship, part of the AI Family Challenge, also in May in Silicon Valley.
Good News About Fake News: AI Can Now Help Detect False Information
With “fake news” embedding itself into, well, our news, it’s become more important than ever to distinguish between content that is fake or authentic. That’s why Vagelis Papalexakis, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Riverside, developed an algorithm that detects fake news with 75 percent accuracy.
Make Our Podcast Better
Have a few minutes to spare? Fill out this short listener survey. Your answers will help us make a better podcast.