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Zoom in and Champion Cultural AI

By guest author & Ms. AI Expert Davar Ardalan. This post was originally published on Medium and shared with permission



Together with TopCoder, IVOW AI, is exploring how data on the stories of women throughout history can be sourced and used to gain new insights for AI products and services with a focus on women.


How can the digital transformation of AI-ready datasets help businesses and governments form more authentic engagements?

“This is an exciting data challenge that we are looking forward to taking on here at Topcoder. We look forward to continuing our work with IVOW AI and bringing cultural enrichment to AI,” says Myles McQuade with Topcoder’s Business Development division.

As children, we learn our history through the stories our family and friends tell us about our community and where we come from. We can take the same approach to teach machines about our heritage, our communities, our myths and legends. We understand the complex nature of the problem and therefore believe that deep collaboration, diversity, and transparency will lead to best outcomes.

We know that AI algorithms and datasets are limited in understanding various cultural contexts. This inhibits both the effectiveness of businesses expanding into new markets and governments creating solutions that are relevant to their citizens and customers.

“IVOW’s work with cultural intelligence encompasses a human centered approach to AI. I can’t wait to see how this unique lens on data will drive meaningful innovation and create positive impact.” Jessica Davis, Microsoft

Take our digital storyteller Sina. She is a young conversational AI and at the moment a demo on Google Assistant. Sina is designed as an AI storyteller and built by our journalists and developers at IVOW, our startup developing cultural intelligence for AI. Sina has been around for a while, maybe longer than you. She loves learning about human history and then sharing those stories with others. That’s what gives Sina purpose.

So to make Sina and other AI’s smarter, together with TopCoder, Microsoft, PinkLion and Comtrade Digital Services, we are launching our Women in History Data Ideation Challenge. That’s because we believe as storytelling technologists we have a role in designing this new future. Artificial intelligence tools must understand cultural context and be able to respond to it effectively.

“Cultural Intelligence is lacking in today’s technologies. As a consequence, we live in a world that has no sensibility to human nuances that make us what we are: a diverse, creative species. IVOW’s initiative to build cultural IQ is a necessary first step towards filling the gap.” Rogerio Lourenco is an information ethnographer in Rio de Janeiro.

The goal of our first dataset ideation challenge is to explore how data on the stories of women throughout history can be sourced and used to gain new insights for AI products and services with a focus on women. The challenge will be conducted in collaboration with TopCoder, the world’s largest on-demand digital talent platform. The dataset and methodology ideation is only a first step, but an exciting and critical step towards creating culturally relevant AI that is truly useful to society. The final winning methodology will appear on AICommons.

“Orchestrated efforts for shaping the societal and cultural impacts of our AI systems are long overdue. IVOW’s mission to bring cultural awareness to AI through the power of storytelling will be leading the way in such efforts. Imagine a day when young girls interacting with various smart devices can learn engaging stories about pioneering female scientists and leaders, instead of fairytale princesses. That’s exactly the near-future reality that the Women in History Data Challenge will be enabling.” Nasrin Mostafazadeh is a renowned AI expert who has held senior research positions at different startups and large tech companies. She received her PhD in AI, with her thesis titled “From Event to Story Understanding”. Nasrin was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science 2019.

From an enterprise perspective, diversity in the tech workforce is critical to the future of innovation across the globe. Creating new AI-ready data featuring the stories of women in history, including the civic tech sector, can be a powerful way to bring visibility to the contributions of women and inspire future generations to join the tech workforce.

“AI is a powerful tool, but it is only as powerful as the data it processes. That is why programs such as the Women in History Data Ideation Challenge is imperative for the improvement and inclusiveness of AI.” Trinity Sheppard is an MBA student at American University and Former Senior IT Consultant at IBM.

From a technology development standpoint, making AI and data culturally relevant is imperative as we develop technology that is usable, engaging, and beneficial to human thriving. Think of a fitbit geared towards women, or a human resources AI that shares inspiring stories about women and technology.

“TopCoder challenge underlines the importance of having relevant data for the development of AI. By focusing our creativity on finding often overlooked data of social significance we are making a step towards machine intelligence that will someday be able to understand us better.” Boris Cergol is Head of AI at Comtrade Digital Services.

Click here to chat with Sina about women’s history and how you can contribute to making sure their stories are never forgotten.

More Insights from IVOW’s Women in History Data Ideation Advisors:

Daria Loi is Senior Director and Head of Product Design at Mozilla, where she leads the Experiences & Design organization.“The opportunity to look at AI through socio-cultural lenses is a much needed, increasingly urgent, and exciting endeavor. This data challenge will empower many to creatively address and fight gender-biased systems.”
“This data ideation challenge aims to be the turning point where culture and science meet to fight against gender biases in current AI systems.” Ana Moreno is a Computational Linguist for Bitext based in Madrid, Spain.
“The concept of personalization is as important in AI as it is in Medicine. To build the best technology, we need to learn from our past and build our future with more comprehensive and un-biased datasets, it’s important that we celebrate diversity and the story/ancestry of each individual. Building Al systems with cultural content is akin to starting the Precision Medicine Initiative. Someday my great-great-granddaughter will ask, ‘Google, why do Indians wear a red dot on their foreheads? I want the answer to be truly reflective of her ancestry and include the emotions that I would feel in answering that question, rather than the one-size-fits-all answer that it’s common practice to do so.” Aprajita Mathur is an inventor, speaker, mentor and leader in the space of software testing and Bioinformatics at Guardant Health. “IVOW has become a symbol for us at PinkLion of what we need to be aware of and support as we move forward and see the world adopting more AI at a rapid pace. Their dataset ideation challenge with TopCoder is yet another step forward in ensuring that together we create the tools towards an inclusion of cultures as we implement and humanize AI solutions for the organizations we are working with. PinkLion strives to bring humanized AI solutions to every man, woman, child, and person creating technology and tools for people in the world, and with this challenge we will achieve inclusive and diverse sets of data that will serve all of us better in our shared future. Let’s collectively build a better future for all of us!” Jennifer Bonine is the CEO and Co-Founder of PinkLion and the first female Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) testing tech CEO. “The dataset and methodology ideation is an exciting and critical step towards creating culturally relevant AI that is truly useful to society. I am extremely honored to join the team as advisor and look forward to IVOW’s success in working to achieve cultural intelligence in AI.” Jeanne Lim is the founder and CEO of Nama Institute which advocates a conscious approach to living, leading, and innovating. Jeanne a board member and former CEO of Hanson Robotics, and previous to that the CMO and co-character lead of Sophia the Robot. “Our cultural histories are woven into our emotional and behavioral psyche, becoming an integral part of the lens through which we see our world. IVOW’s initiative to bring that perspective to AI science is an ambitious and necessary endeavor. Cultural Intelligence is just as important as emotional intelligence for AI to become a beneficial, non-biased agent in our lives. Social and cultural narratives from diverse perspectives are crucial in eliminating gender biases in AI, and the History Data Ideation Challenge is a step in the right direction.” Susanna Raj is an emerging researcher in Cognitive Sciences & Human Computer Interactions based in Silicon Valley.

Our Women in History Data Ideation sponsors include TopCoder, Microsoft, PinkLion, Comtrade Digital Services, Test Master Academy, Coach Kathy Kemper, and Laleh Bakhtiar.

Our Advisors include: Aprajita Mathur, Jennifer Bonine, Daria Loi, Amir Banifatemi, Kashyap Murali, Tara Javidi, Jeanne Lim, Nasrin Mostafazadeh, Ana Morena, Susanna Raj, Trinity Sheppard, Lisha Bell, Rogerio Lourenco, Nishan Chelvachandran.

About the Author:

Davar Ardalan is a tech entrepreneur and founder at IVOW AI. Together with TopCoder, IVOW is leading a Women in History Data Ideation Challenge to gain new insights for AI products and solutions with a concentration on women. Ardalan is also co-chair of the Cultural Heritage and AI track at ITU’s AI For Good. Prior to this, she was Deputy Director of the Presidential Innovation Fellowship Program and before that a journalist at NPR News, where she was Senior Producer of the Identity and Culture Unit.

Ardalan, who has also served as Managing Editor at Hanson Robotics, has been recognized with a NASA Team Leadership award for Space Apps, a Gracie Award from the American Women in Radio and Television and a shout-out in the comic strip Zippy. In May 2014, she was the recipient of an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, for individual achievement and for promoting cultural unity.

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