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Black in AI Founder Dr. Timnit Gebru

Dear Net Buddies and Blazers,

Protests around the world are working to change institutions that control POC today, institutions that were created decades and even centuries ago. This is dfinitely important and a struggle that must continue until these institutions operate with justice and equity. But what about the institutions that will govern or control us in the future? The technologies that will inform and enforce for these institutions are being developed today – and many forward-thinking POC are working to make sure they are built and used with justice and equity as a fore-thought – not an after thought. Timnit Gebru is one of these today’s leaders focused on creating a better world for all of us tomorrow.

Timnit, is a Research Scientist in the Ethical AI Team at Google and also Cofounder of Black in AI. She was born and raised in Ethiopia. Timnit has given TED Talks on how to stop artificial intelligence from marginalizing and understanding the limitations of AI. Her company Black in AI is a multi-institutional, transcontinental initiative creating space for sharing ideas, fostering collaboration, and discussing initiatives to increase the presence of Black individuals in the field of AI.

Timnit grew tired of being the only Black person in a large pool of engineers at the AI tech conferences she attended around the world. She is an advocate for inspiring Black youth to join her in the tech world. In an interview with WEALTH magazine, she explained how there was a lack of Black Women in AI even when she worked for Apple. In the conferences she went to, Black Women where under represented, and Timnit wanted to change that. In 2016, after a rant on Facebook following another experience at a nondiverse tech conference, Timnit established a private group on Facebook to connect Black people working in AI, and a few hundred people asked to join the group. The following year that’s when she founded Black in AI (BAI). Since then, her organization has taken off. She has gathered a group of engineers and researchers from around the world. Each year, Timnit and her team have been able to provide travel grants through corporate sponsorships. For anyone interested in a career in research, engineering, and AI, I encourage you to watch her TED Talks on YouTube.   – Andrew Johns, Net Blazer

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