The startup diversifying the AI workforce beyond just “techies”
Rachel Thomas wants you to join the AI workforce, and she has a plan to make that happen.
On Tuesday at MIT Technology Review’s annual EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, the cofounder of Fast.ai, a company that offers free classes on deep learning, argued that AI is not as inaccessible as it seems.
In an onstage presentation, Thomas discussed what are stereotypically considered prerequisites to working in AI, like a PhD, big data sets, and access to expensive computing power. She then gave examples of AI systems that defy those expectations, like a neural network one of her students created using a training technique that needed only 30 data points to work. She also pointed out the availability of a cloud-based GPU that cost just 45 cents an hour.
“The barriers to using AI are lower than you may think,” she said.
Diverse viewpoints are essential to creating AI that tackles problems outside the purview of Silicon Valley. Thomas recounted the example of a farmer signing up for Fast.ai’s class to develop an algorithm to better monitor the health of his goats’ udders.
“You know about problems no one else knows about,” she says.
Thomas believes that having more diversity within the AI world will also help with the problems of bias and fairness that currently bedevil the industry. She thinks that more diverse teams can prevent problems like the tendency of Google’s Photos app to label black people as “gorillas” and the implied racism uncovered by ProPublica in an algorithm being used for bail decisions in Florida.
“The field has a bit of exclusivity problem,” Thomas said. “The world really needs all of you involved in AI.”
The inside story of how ChatGPT was built from the people who made it
Exclusive conversations that take us behind the scenes of a cultural phenomenon.
AI is dreaming up drugs that no one has ever seen. Now we’ve got to see if they work.
AI automation throughout the drug development pipeline is opening up the possibility of faster, cheaper pharmaceuticals.
GPT-4 is bigger and better than ChatGPT—but OpenAI won’t say why
We got a first look at the much-anticipated big new language model from OpenAI. But this time how it works is even more deeply under wraps.
The original startup behind Stable Diffusion has launched a generative AI for video
Runway’s new model, called Gen-1, can change the visual style of existing videos and movies.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.