Timnit Gebru honored as an Alicorn of Artificial Intelligence by People in AI
As a teenager, she left her native country to move to the United States and began embarking on a journey that would lead her to achieve a Bachelors, Master’s and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. From there she earned a prestigious engineering job at Apple, then co-founded a startup. That should be enough right? Not for Gebru! She left Apple in the past, and now she is a Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. But there’s more.
Gebru’s work was featured this year by The Economist. They highlighted her research to use machine learning and deep learning to predict census data using millions of images from google street view.
What’s further fascinating about Gebru is that she is a multiplier! She returned to Ethiopia to teach programming to young students with AddisCoder, a programming bootcamp. The students in this bootcamp were a diverse range, hailing from both rural areas and cities, with male and female gender balance, and accommodating people with disabilities. Some of these students have gone on to earn admission to Ivy League Universities. Thanks to work like this the next great innovation for our world very well may come from the minds Gebru has inspired and helped to mold.
Forbes has even featured Gebru’s work. She saw a problem after having the experience of often being the only woman in the room at AI conferences and being among a small group of people of African descent. She didn’t sit back on this knowledge as diversity is critical to innovation in general, but also essential to the development of AI which is known to inherit the bias of the people who develop it. Gebru took action to address the problem and co-founded a social community called Black in AI which is a thriving community of data scientists, and AI engineers of African descent and/or who identify as black. This community serves as a place for sharing ideas, fostering collaborations and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of black people in the field of Artificial Intelligence.