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Siri, How are Women Taking Part in AI?

While women’s voices are widely used in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies— just listen to Siri or Alexa—women are underrepresented in the AI industry. By 2018, the number of enterprises using AI is expected to reach 62 percent, according to a survey by Narrative Science, a company that has created AI-powered language generation software. That growth will be driven, in part, by the growth in high-speed broadband networks, which are connecting the next generation of Internet of Things and other technologies.


Despite the increasing popularity of AI, encouraging women to go into science and technology fields remains a challenge. Only about 29 percent of science and engineering employees are women.


Some inspirational women are working to increase those numbers. One female tech leader has created Drive.Ai, which builds deep learning software for self-driving cars and has released several autonomous vehicles on the road already. At IBM, a female engineer is leading the charge to give Watson AI tools to infer personalities, emotions, tone, attitudes, and intentions. Another female robotics pioneer started Personal Robotics Group, an MIT research lab focusing on developing principles, techniques and technologies for personal robots, while also founding Jibo, a personal robotics company.


Some tech organizations for women are also focused on AI, such as Women in Machine Learning. In 2003, the group’s founders estimated women in machine learning represented about 15 percent of the workforce. Since then, attendance at the organization’s annual meeting has tripled. Women Who Tech hosts an annual startup challenge with the most recent focusing on AI. The winner, ‘Didimo,’ is able to create a 3D, life-like avatar from just a photo. And an AI platform named ‘Alice’ aims to support women in tech startups by offering real-time advice on legal, marketing and finance questions, as well as a library of resources.