WiDS 2021 — Highlights

Keynote Address — Jean Liu, President, Didi Chuxing

AI for Finance Automation — Deepti Chafekar, Director, Data Science, AppZen

Moderator:
Shir Meir Lador, Data Science Group Manager, Intuit

Panelists:
Andrea Martin, Leader IBM Watson Center Munich & EMEA Client Centers, IBM Distinguished Engineer, IBM,
Monica Scannapieco, Head of the Division “Information and Application Architecture”, Italian National Institute of Statistics
Nazareen Ebrahim, AI Ethics Officer, Socially Acceptable — South Africa

  • Monica talked about the work being carried out at her organisation and how ethics are reinforced in the operations, from web scraping that doesn’t violate owner’s privileges to using privacy-preserving techniques for accessing personal data
  • Andrea elaborated on IBM’s efforts for AI & ethics, and how it is actually an end-to-end approach centred around processes, people and tools
  • Nazareen is involved with an AI ethics mentorship program for women all around the world paired with leaders. When asked what keeps her up at night, she answered “preserving dignity”

What would you do if you weren’t afraid — Snehi Mehta, Head-Product Marketing, Facebook

  • Identifying microaggressions and blindspots
  • Diversity and inclusion is not just for HRs. If for most part, work culture affects the rest of us then shouldn’t all of us be working to inculcate it in everything we undertake?
  • Processes at Facebook — training, reporting & acting, community, accountability, measurability

Keynote Address — Joelle Pineau, Team Lead, Facebook Research, Associate Professor, McGill University

  • Joelle began by disclosing statistics about scientists expressing their concerns regarding reproducibility. Towards the end she introduced an ML reproducibility checklist, with elements like documenting dependencies, training code, results in a paper, etc.
  • Her research work has mainly been in the area of Reinforcement Learning of which she gave an introduction (there have been nearly 20,000 papers in this domain in the last few years, a number I find rather insane). She also talked about adaptive neurostimulation, an application of RL

​Leveraging Data & Analytics to Solve Challenges in the ​Pandemic and Beyond​ — Gina Papush, Global Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Evernorth

  • Gina talked about a modelling approach for forecasting Covid-19 infections
  • She also introduced her company’s creation of an analytics suite of predictive solutions to better manage risks for employees and guide employer decisions

Panel Discussion: Paths to Leadership in Data Science

Moderator: Martina Lauchengco, Operating Partner, Costanoa Ventures

Panelists:
Afua Bruce, Chief Program Officer, DataKind
​Daniela Braga, Founder and CEO, DefinedCrowd, Inc.
​Aishwarya Agrawal, Professor, University of Montreal; Research Scientist, DeepMind
Michelle Rodriguez, Dean, Engineering School Universidad del Pacífico

Credits: @WiDS_Worldwide
  • Michelle talked about the importance of communication and pursuit. In a society that sees women as different, it’s important to tell people about your ideas
  • Aishwarya talked about two kinds of skills she has learnt— some that are asked of her, and others that she observed in her environment and imbibed. An important aspect of doing research is to communicate your research — for instance, in presentations by giving more examples and demos of work instead of the math. Even while writing a paper, it’s important to communicate and design the flow of documents well. She said she learnt a great deal about these things while pursuing her Ph.D., including the skill of reasoning.
  • Afua raised the point of relevance of mentorship, and something that all of us worry about — finding a mentor and finding time with mentors. She said that one doesn’t need regular discussions with people to get inspired. Instead one can be motivated from just a few encounters, from public talks or even from social media. This approach has helped her serve the public better
  • Daniela is one of the few women holding leadership roles in a highly technical industry. When asked who motivates her, Daniela said her daughter is one of her biggest motivations. In her words, “she cannot live without me and what can be a greater motivation than that”.

Keynote Address​ — Shafi Goldwasser, Director, UC Berkeley and Professor, MIT and Weizmann Institute of Science

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Chaitanyasuma

Chaitanyasuma

A curious learner

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