The NBC news morning show Today featured Princeton University’s AI4All, a summer program that gives high school students from around the country a chance to learn from experts about artificial intelligence and to dive into hands-on projects.
“There is a lot of fear about AI right now, and that’s part of what’s driving a lot of people away,” Russakovsky told NBC in the segment, which aired Aug. 1. “They don’t see role models that look like them. They don’t have peer support network within the field. What we try to do is address all of this. We try to demystify some of the technology and reduce some of the fear” thus bringing more diverse viewpoints and experiences into the field.
Russakovsky, who co-founded AI4All as a graduate student at Stanford University in 2015, co-directs the Princeton program with Jaime Fernández Fisac, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Ed Felten, the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Emeritus. AI4All is now at more than 12 college and university campuses nationwide.
The Princeton program, which is open to all rising 11th-grade students, hosted 30 students from 11 states plus India and Morocco. In addition to the three co-directors, the program is supported by three other faculty lecturers; 10 instructors including eight graduate students and two Class of ’23 undergraduates; and two staff members, Kobi Kaplan and Baffour Osei.
The students were organized into four teams whose projects each focused on a particular technical domain and particular area of societal need where such technology could help:
- AI4MentalHealth: using tools of natural language processing in the context of mental health and language analysis;
- Rainforest: using techniques from computer vision to identify illegal deforestation in satellite imagery of the Amazon rainforest;
- AI4Accessibility: also using computer vision to identify American Sign Language signs on webcam and other types of live video;
- Robotics: using simulation to study how robotic teams – over a wide range of sizes – could identify specific targets such as forest fires, polar bear habitations, volcanic activity, or mutated red blood cells (sickle cell anemia).
In the interview, NBC’s Morgan Radford asked AI4All participant Michele Welson what she would say to other young women or people of color who might be hesitant to learn about artificial intelligence.
“Don’t be intimidated,” Welson said. “And be open-minded to learn new things.”