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The Artificial Intelligence Vanguard—Sitting Down With Eve Pardi

Eve Pardi, Microsoft AI MVP [Image Credits: Microsoft]

Artificial Intelligence is slowly permeating into every facet of our daily lives. Despite the development of modern AI being traced back to the 1950s, recent times have seen unforeseen advancements, bringing about a radical shift in ideologies in the world we live in. Having been associated with Microsoft since her university days, Eve Pardi has been actively helping people in understanding, interpreting, and implementing AI in real life. We, at The MIT Post, had the opportunity to interview her about her experiences and her take on the influence of Artificial Intelligence on the modern world. 

You are part of a community of AI enthusiasts called Global AI. Is there any way college students or anyone else can contribute?

Yes, students can definitely contribute. First, as a learner, you can join the October sessions—four events to learn more! And on the 12th of December, there is a special Global AI Student Conference you can speak or join. And of course on the globalai.live you can find everything broadcasted and have a 24/7 learning experience. We’re also organising community days in January—this is the good old fashioned locally organised set of events like we used to have. Additionally, you are welcome to become a community leader and organise your own community and events within Global AI, in your own region. You can find all the info you need at globalai.community, and feel free to reach out to me if you want more answers.

There are many students who are interested in AI but have no idea how to approach or understand the concept so would you like to give any advice to them?

I would always advise anyone to follow YouTube or Twitch channels or check out my webpage where people can get a taste of AI and ML. The most important step is to start. On my website you can follow step by step tutorials on how to make it work—it really isn’t that hard but gives a good overview of the steps that are advised to follow. I have experience with many people that got the understanding by doing so, and I firmly stand by the learning by doing approach.

I also want to introduce you to a new video lecture series I’m building with my partner in crime, another AI MVP, Håkan. It is called AI42, AI is the answer to all your questions,  if you know what I mean. With this we want to reach out to students or anyone, who wants to start a career in data science, using AI. It provides you with the ins and outs of the mathematical background, programming, and also the high-level practical knowledge in building machine learning models. Please, follow me on Twitter or find my page on Facebook, and make sure you join our events. The series should start sometime in the beginning of November. Otherwise, there are a lot of cool classes available on edX, Coursera or Microsoft Learn as well. And you are always welcome to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Implementing data interpretation in the various sectors, like the health sector, can be very difficult because a small error can cause extensive damage. So, how can student developers help ensure accuracy and effectiveness of this implementation?

Whilst there are many approaches to ensure quality, I would always advise the ones I’m mentoring to look into Responsible AI. It is an approach that ensures the ethical, transparent, and accountable use of AI technologies. AI systems have a growing impact on people’s everyday lives, so it is fundamental to understand models, protect people, and control AI systems. The tools within Responsible AI help developers debug and understand their models, and by increasing the understanding of intelligent systems for end-users, it helps people make better decisions and accept and trust AI solutions.

Now that AI is being used in almost every domain of life, as an experienced professional in the field, how much more do you think the field can progress in the future?

I am a firm believer of continuous development. I don’t see how the progress of AI technologies could stop in the near future. Some years ago, watches only had pedometers and even that was a huge step. Nowadays there are technologies to track everything from emotions to even our date of death.

There is a software soon being introduced into the healthcare industry which could help people get diagnosed by symptoms and does so by learning diseases from past data. Exciting. Not to mention the automotive industry, where self-driving cars are getting introduced—so many new innovations in so many industries. I think the focus on AI nowadays is enormous and I can’t foresee innovation stopping anytime soon. As mentioned in my last talks and articles, I believe that many lives can be saved by AI technologies, we just need to use them well. I am so excited to see the future of these technologies.

You’ve been associated with Microsoft for quite a long time. Would you like to tell us a bit about your experiences with the company and it’s approach towards AI?

While I was going to university, I was a Student Partner of Microsoft and worked with cloud services of Microsoft Azure. During my journey, I’ve seen a massive growth in the usage and interest in these services by companies and individuals as well.

Around 5 or 6 years ago—just like an explosion—AI and data science became the greatest technological buzzwords. When I realised how close this field was to me, I spent all my time digging deeper into mathematics, statistics, and probability. I didn’t leave cloud services behind, especially because Microsoft provided many tools for machine learning and data science solutions on Azure. These were improved basically every day, and I enjoyed following the changes and investigating the benefits of these services. I shared my knowledge with the community at conferences, meetups, also face to face sometimes, and by writing articles. As a result of these activities, I’ve been awarded as an AI MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional).

For a long time, the most important approach for developers in the field was to build AI solutions with high accuracy and make these services available to as many industries as possible. The awareness of data protection has been growing in the last few years—we have seen privacy and legal issues, and some companies have lost user data because of hackers or similar.

Microsoft emphasizes on ethical principles that put people first, so this means that AI developers must work in a way that can be benefitted in society while warranting people’s trust. The tools available to us can help us understand the behaviour of our solutions, and protect data by preserving privacy. Being an MVP involves many benefits, but I think the biggest one is that I can see from the front line, how many improvements there are in the AI and data services provided by Microsoft, and that I can be part of this innovation as a contributor.

Featured Image Credits: The Student Council, MIT

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