At GTC, Educators and Leaders Focus on Equity in AI, Developer Diversity

by Louis Stewart

Not everyone needs to be a developer, but everyone will need to be an AI decision maker.

That was the message behind a panel discussion on Advancing Equitable AI, which took place at our GPU Technology Conference last week. It was one of several GTC events advancing the conversation on diversity, equity and ethics in AI.

This year, we strengthened our support for women and underrepresented developers and scientists at GTC by providing conference passes to members of professional organizations supporting women, Black and Latino developers. Professors at historically Black colleges and universities — including Prairie View A&M University, Hampton University and Jackson State University — as well as groups like Black in AI and LatinX in AI received complimentary access to training from the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute.

A Forbes report last year named GTC as one of the U.S.’s top conferences for women to attend to further their careers in AI. At this month’s event, women made up better than one in five registered attendees — doubling last year’s count and an almost 4x increase since 2017 — and more than 100 of the speakers.

And in a collaboration with the National Society of Black Engineers that will extend beyond GTC, we created opportunities for the society’s collegiate and professional developers to engage with NVIDIA’s recruiting team, which provided guidance on navigating the new world of virtual interviewing and networking.

“We’re excited to be embarking on a partnership with NVIDIA,” said Johnnie Tangle, national finance chairman of NSBE Professionals. “Together, we are both on the mission of increasing the visibility of Blacks in development and showing why diversity in the space enhances the community as a whole.”

Panel Discussions: Paving Pathways for Equitable AI

Two power-packed, all-female panels at GTC focused on a roadmap for responsible and equitable AI.

In a live session that drew over 250 attendees, speakers from the University of Florida, the Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania and AI4All — a nonprofit working to increase diversity and inclusion in AI — discussed the importance of AI exposure and education for children and young adults from underrepresented groups.

When a broader group of young people has access to AI education, “we naturally see a way more diverse and interesting set of problems being addressed,” said Tess Posner, CEO of AI4All, “because young people and emerging leaders in the field are going to connect the technology to a problem they’ve seen in their own lives, in their own experience or in their communities.”

The conversation also covered the role parents and schools play in fostering awareness and exposure to STEM subjects in their children’s schools, as well as the need for everyone — developers or not — to have a foundational understanding of how AI works.

“We want students to be conscious consumers, and hopefully producers,” said Christina Gardner-McCune, associate professor and director of the Engaging Learning Lab at the University of Florida, and co-chair of the AI4K12 initiative. “Everybody is going to be making decisions about what AI technologies are used in their homes, what AI technologies their children interact with.”

Later in the week, a panel titled “Aligning Around Common Values to Advance AI Policy” explored ideas to pave the way for responsible AI on a global scale.

The webinar featured representatives from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Scotland-based innovation center The Data Lab, and C Minds, a think tank focused on AI initiatives in Latin America. Speakers shared their priorities for developing trustworthy AI, and defined what success would like to them five years in the future.

Dinner with Strangers: Developer Diversity in AI

In a virtual edition of the popular Dinner with Strangers networking events at GTC, experts from NVIDIA and NSBE partnered to moderate two conversations with GTC attendees. NVIDIA employees shared their experiences and tips with early-career attendees, offering advice on how to build a personal brand in a virtual world, craft a resume and prepare for interviews.

For more about GTC, watch NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote below.