To give AI-centered women of all ages teachers and others their effectively-deserved — and overdue — time in the spotlight, TechCrunch is launching a series of interviews focusing on outstanding women who’ve contributed to the AI revolution. We’ll publish numerous items in the course of the calendar year as the AI boom carries on, highlighting crucial operate that often goes unrecognized. Read a lot more profiles below.

Anna Korhonen is a professor of organic language processing (NLP) at the College of Cambridge. She’s also a senior exploration fellow at Churchill University, a fellow at the Association for Computational Linguistics, and a fellow at the European Laboratory for Learning and Smart Units.

Korhonen previously served as a fellow at the Alan Turing Institute and she has a PhD in personal computer science and master’s degrees in the two laptop or computer science and linguistics. She researches NLP and how to create, adapt and implement computational techniques to meet the demands of AI. She has a specific fascination in dependable and “human-centric” NLP that — in her personal phrases — “draws on the comprehension of human cognitive, social and artistic intelligence.”


Briefly, how did you get your commence in AI? What captivated you to the industry?

I was generally fascinated by the beauty and complexity of human intelligence, particularly in relation to human language. Nevertheless, my curiosity in STEM topics and sensible applications led me to study engineering and laptop or computer science. I chose to focus in AI simply because it is a area that allows me to blend all these passions.

What operate are you most happy of in the AI discipline?

Even though the science of setting up intelligent devices is fascinating, and just one can very easily get shed in the entire world of language modeling, the supreme cause we’re building AI is its realistic prospective. I’m most happy of the perform exactly where my fundamental investigation on purely natural language processing has led into the enhancement of applications that can help social and global very good. For case in point, applications that can aid us far better recognize how illnesses this sort of as most cancers or dementia build and can be handled, or applications that can guidance schooling.

Substantially of my existing exploration is driven by the mission to develop AI that can enhance human lives for the greater. AI has a huge good potential for social and world wide very good. A major element of my position as an educator is to really encourage the subsequent generation of AI experts and leaders to emphasis on realizing that probable.

How do you navigate the challenges of the male-dominated tech industry and, by extension, the male-dominated AI sector?

I’m fortuitous to be operating in an spot of AI where we do have a sizable feminine populace and founded aid networks. I have uncovered these immensely handy in navigating occupation and personal troubles.

For me, the greatest difficulty is how the male-dominated marketplace sets the agenda for AI. The present arms race to produce ever-much larger AI styles at any value is a fantastic case in point. This has a huge influence on the priorities of the two academia and field, and wide-ranging socioeconomic and environmental implications. Do we require much larger versions, and what are their world wide fees and added benefits? I really feel we would’ve asked these concerns a good deal before in the activity if we had superior gender stability in the area.

What guidance would you give to women seeking to enter the AI field?

AI desperately wants far more women of all ages at all stages, but specifically at the level of leadership. The current management culture isn’t essentially beautiful for gals, but lively involvement can modify that culture — and in the end the tradition of AI. Women are infamously not always excellent at supporting each individual other. I would truly like to see an mind-set modify in this respect: We want to actively network and assistance each other if we want to accomplish superior gender balance in this discipline.

What are some of the most pressing problems experiencing AI as it evolves?

AI has created very rapid: It has developed from an tutorial field to a world-wide phenomenon in considerably less than a one ten years. During this time, most work has gone towards scaling by huge information and computation. Tiny energy has been devoted to considering how this technological know-how really should be designed so that it can ideal serve humanity. People have a very good purpose to get worried about the safety and trustworthiness of AI and its impression on positions, democracy, ecosystem and other places. We require to urgently set human requirements and safety at the centre of AI progress.

What are some troubles AI people must be mindful of?

Existing AI, even when seeming highly fluent, ultimately lacks the planet awareness of individuals and the skill to recognize the complicated social contexts and norms we operate with. Even the finest of today’s technological know-how tends to make problems, and our means to stop or forecast individuals issues is constrained. AI can be a extremely helpful device for several responsibilities, but I would not rely on it to teach my youngsters or make significant choices for me. We individuals should continue being in demand.

What is the best way to responsibly develop AI?

Builders of AI have a tendency to think about ethics as an afterthought — soon after the engineering has already been designed. The best way to assume about it is before any enhancement begins. Thoughts this sort of as, “Do I have a various more than enough staff to establish a reasonable process?” or “Is my data definitely free to use and representative of all the users’ populations?” or “Are my techniques sturdy?” ought to genuinely be requested at the outset.

Despite the fact that we can address some of this issue by means of training, we can only enforce it by means of regulation. The current enhancement of national and worldwide AI regulations is important and desires to continue on to guarantee that future systems will be safer and additional dependable.

How can investors superior drive for accountable AI?

AI polices are emerging and businesses will eventually need to have to comply. We can assume of accountable AI as sustainable AI truly worth investing in.

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