Women in AI
The business world views AI as a potential game-changer for virtually every industry. But not everyone understands how it works or its capabilities. Some are simply confused about what it can do, thinking it’s movie magic – or worse, they think it’s dangerous. Priyanka Parmar, Cognitive Engagement Manager at IPsoft, would like to dispel these myths once and for all.
“I think everyone tends to fear what they don't understand,” she says. “That's human nature and the idea of AI usually comes from sci-fi movies. You’re watching Star Trek and Star Wars, but most sci-fi movies lay out AI as the bad guy. In most interviews with Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, they’ve said that AI will destroy the world and robots will supersede humans.”
Priyanka says that all of these things are being taken out of context.
“They are like snippets of information, which is put out there and people take what they want to take,” she explains. “If they want to fear AI, they will try to reach out for information which is validating their sense of reality.”
Instead of looking for the negative or believing that it can solve all problems that are beyond human capacity, Priyanka describes AI as “art guided by human imagination that can go in the direction you want it to go.”
“I explain it to my mother like this: think about a child with an empty brain,” she says. “You try to teach the child to do some tasks. Except it’s not a child, it’s a computer program. The difference is that it can learn in a matter of minutes for stuff which can take us years.”
Looking at her career and how others can follow in her footsteps, she says there needs to be a change in how children are raised.
“If you have a baby and it’s a girl, you get pink clothes and you get a kitchen set for playing with,” Priyanka says. “And if it’s a boy, then you get Lego, you get all these other toys to play with. And I think at that point it puts kids in a bucket and it trains them to think a certain way, already setting expectations.”
When women do enter STEM fields, Priyanka says it often relates to healthcare and other areas of care. “Now I'm generalizing, but again, it's a stereotype that we are expected to play,” she says. “We have to make science and technology more women-friendly. Right now, there is a big movement going on to have more women in this field, management positions, and programming.”
Priyanka would also like to see a change in how kids are inspired and encouraged to pursue their dreams in school.
“It has to come from the education system,” she says. “Where we should push the younger generation to explore, instead of going to be a nurse or to the kitchen or something. Children of 15 years of age use all these gadgets, but they don't know how it works or what this career field actually means, what AI actually means. And if we start from the education system itself – to give them more options when they're younger, to explain what this career path would mean – then we broaden their mindset and give them options.”