We were delighted to be joined by over 100 Women in AI at the end of November for the first instalment of our Women in AI virtual evenings. The evening of virtual networking, discussion and keynote presentations, supported by TD Bank, covered topics including 'Diversity's Critical Role in AI and Innovation', Action Recognition for Behaviour Understanding from Video in 2020 and more.

Speakers included Jane Ho, Associate VP, Data & Analytics at TD Bank, Ashley Cohen, Principal Analytical Lead of Google, Tanmana Sadhu, Computer Vision Engineer at Huawei Canada, Inmar Givoni, Director of Engineering of Uber ATG, Sedef Akinli Kocak, Senior Lecturer at Ryerson University and Hakimeh Purmehdi, Senior Data Scientist at Ericsson.

A summary of highlights is below, including a video recording of the panel discussion.

Jane Ho, Associate VP, Data & Analytics at TD Bank

Diversity's Critical Role in AI and Innovation

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning models are heavily reliant on the data that feed them. While AI can improve human decision making; however, since data can be biased based on human decisions made in the past, AI output may inherit or even amplify biases. There are different solutions that could help mitigate bias, such as interrogating the data to better understand any inherent bias beforehand or conducting fairness tests to check if the model output may unfairly discriminate against protected groups. One way to provide additional perspectives and mitigate bias that perhaps we don't often talk about is having a more diverse, multi-disciplinary workforce who works in AI.

"Young girls don’t have lots of pioneers they can relate to. There aren’t enough female role models"

Key Takeaway(s) from this presentation

  • 5 powers and abilities to bring more women into AI: As a coach, as a mentor, to sponsor, to recruit and the education piece
  • When companies establish inclusive business cultures and policies they report a 59% increase in creativity and innovation. And 38% better ability to assess consumer interest in demand
  • % of women that work in AI are 10 - 22%. These have been largely stagnant for years or even falling

Tanmana Sadhu, Computer Vision Engineer at Huawei Canada

Action Recognition for Behaviour Understanding from Video in 2020

Automated Behaviour Understanding is presently an actively researched area of Computer Vision. It is of interest for applications such as autonomous vehicles, health care, HCI, video summarization, etc. We may break down the behaviour understanding task into several levels to make it simpler. At the first level, basic motions, poses, gaze may be recognized. At the next level, we may consider activity recognition approaches. Finally, we may further assign associations for group dynamics, predict crowd motion, interpret scene contexts or even intent from visual cues, essentially unfolding a higher degree of semantics along with temporal information. This talk will explore the latest developments and challenges in this area of research, with a focus on action recognition.

"We are still trying to solve some of the most fundamental problems in research"
"Ask questions, right or wrong, the more we ask the more we can move to solve these problems and the problems in our lives with technology"

Key Takeaway(s) from this presentation

  • The complexity in CV tends to lie a little bit more towards finding good network architectures.
  • One area that will grow more and more in CV is having multiple mortalities

Panel Discussion - All Speakers

The panellists discussed; beginning or changing to a career in tech or progressing to more senior roles and addressing the uncertainties that come with this; specific concerns for this with regards to the current climate regarding COVID19; impacts of COVID19 on work/life balance; and work/life balance for Women in Tech in general.

Inmar Givoni, Director of Engineering Uber ATG

Key Quotes

"Changing from role to role is not easy. The important lesson was to make sure you give yourself enough time to figure out if you like it enough and trusting your intuition"
"It is all about finding a job that is right for you"
"This is a challenge for women, even if you dare to ask, which is already so hard for us to do, they are only willing to accept your value when you say, I’m leaving"

Sedef Akinli Kocak, Project Manager/ Senior Lecturer Vector Institute/ Ryerson University

Key Quotes

"The best way to learn something is to teach something"
"It is not easy, but you have to be determined and analyse yourself, what are your abilities and values. Which are stronger and which are weaker? For the weaker ones, how can you work on that?"
"Have a very good mentor who you can take your guidance from"

Hakimeh (Rose) Purmehdi, Senior Data Scientist Ericsson

Key Quotes

"When you believe in something, no matter what, time, capacity, nothing can stop you"
"The motivation is in your gene to push"
"I go for it, I learn it, then I do it"

We would like to say a huge thank you to all of our speakers and attendees, especially to TD Bank, for sponsoring us. If you are interested in attending our Women in AI Events, please take a look here.

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