Beyond Siri and Alexa – celebrating women behind AI

SUMMARY:

Highlighting five high-powered contributors to the field of artificial intelligence, Deskera’s Rebecca Neufeld celebrates the women behind AI

Woman scientist working with digital technologies © Sergey Nivens - Fotolia.comWe’ve all heard how women are giving voice to artificial intelligence (AI), from Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. But less known is the female brainpower behind some of the most exciting developments in AI today.

In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, we want to highlight five women who have made remarkable contributions to the field of artificial intelligence. As we consider role of AI in ERP and the enterprise, these women inspire us with their innovation, as well as their pivotal roles in supporting diversity and the advancement of women.

Dr Fei-Fei Li, Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and Stanford Vision Lab

Dr Fei-Fei Li, an associate computer science professor at Stanford University, is a world-renowned expert on computer vision, machine learning (ML), AI, cognitive neuroscience and big data analytics. She is also director of — and the only woman at — Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. There, Dr Li heads a team of the world’s top scientists and students working to enable computers and robots to see and think, while also conducting cognitive and neuroimaging experiments to understand how our brains work. Her research at Stanford has helped create software capable of recognizing scenes from still photographs and then accurately describing them using natural language.

Currently Dr Li is on a sabbatical from Stanford and is serving as a chief scientist of AI/ML of Google Cloud. An author of more than 100 scientific articles in top-tier journals and conferences, she was a TED 2015 speaker and has received recognition with the 2014 IBM Faculty Fellow Award, 2012 Yahoo Labs FREP Award, and 2011 Alfred Sloan Faculty Award. Dr Li also frequently comments on the need for ethnic and gender diversity in artificial intelligence.

Star Cunningham, Founder and CEO, 4D Healthware

Star Cunningham is changing healthcare for patients with chronic illnesses through her company, 4D Healthware, which combines emerging technology in a single platform to monitor a person’s health and wellness. 4D’s AI software and machine-learning algorithms use data collected via 250 wearable devices to send text and email messages to patients, helping nudge them toward proper disease management.

Previously, Cunningham worked at IBM, where one of her projects involved building facial recognition software to help police in Brazil fight crime. To date, she has raised $770,000 and is on the verge of becoming the 12th African American woman ever to secure more than a million dollars in venture funding. Cunningham is also on the board of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Chicago Chapter, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the industry.

Lexie Komisar, Senior Lead and Founding Member, IBM Digital Innovation Lab

Lexie Komisar is a 29-year-old founding team member at IBM’s Digital Innovation Lab, which incubates new digital businesses around emerging technologies, such as IBM’s advanced AI platform Watson, while also collaborating with start-ups and the broader technology community. Prior to IBM, Komisar worked on digital health and innovation for the Clinton Foundation, where she created the Foundation’s first program exclusively focused on technology and innovation. Komisar also runs the LadyBoss Collective, an organization she co-founded, which aims to bring emerging female leaders across industries together to share common goals and offer support.

Rana el Kaliouby, Co-founder and CEO, Affectiva

Rana el Kaliouby, PhD, is the co-founder and CEO of MIT Media Lab spin-off, Affectiva, helping to bring artificial emotional intelligence to the digital world. She leads the company’s emotion recognition technology, which is built on a science platform that uses deep learning and the world’s largest emotion data repository to understand people’s feelings and behaviors. Previously, as an MIT Media Lab research scientist, el Kaliouby built emotion technology with a focus on autism.

Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Wired, Forbes, The New York Times, and CNN. A TED speaker, el Kaliouby was recognized by TechCrunch as a women founder who crushed it in 2016, and Entrepreneur Magazine named her one of The 7 Most Powerful Women to Watch in 2014.

Lili Cheng, Distinguished Engineer and General Manager, FUSE Labs, Microsoft Research

As general manager of FUSE Labs within the Microsoft AI & Research Group, Lili Cheng focuses on conversational experiences, bots, and intelligence systems. She is responsible for the Microsoft Bot Framework, which is part of Cortana Intelligence, and for ensuring that Microsoft doesn’t cede the voice interface market to Amazon Alexa. Chen is also in charge of bringing together the community of bot creators, channels, tools, and AI experts at events such as Botness, Microsoft Research’s Design Expo, and the Social Computing Symposium.

Prior to her work on conversational AI, she was the director of user experience for Microsoft Windows. Internally, she’s known as the person behind Kodu Game Lab, which provides the Kodu visual programming language children can use to create their own games.

Truth be told, it’s not just women in AI, or even just tech, that are boldly making a difference in their respective industries. We’ve also chosen this week to highlight some women entrepreneurs we admire on our Better Business blog.

Image credit - Woman scientist working with digital technologies © Sergey Nivens - Fotolia.com