I had never really thought about the significance of artificial intelligence in my life, but since being exposed to it, I now know the substantial impact it can and will have in the not so distant future. Along with Annelies Alcorn (Year 11), over the Easter Break, I had the opportunity to attend the Young Women Leaders in Artificial Intelligence Camp, a six-day national program for women aged 16-26, designed to introduce young people to the ever-changing world of technology and empower them to integrate technology into their own careers. The camp was centred around a group pitch which utilised computer vision technology to solve an issue, which required us to plan the technology surrounding our MVP (minimum value product), create a brand and pitch in a matter of days. All of this was tremendously challenging, but rewarding, and proved to be a significant learning experience.
We were exposed to some surface level technical aspects of machine learning such as deep neural networks and advanced wireless services for training our own models, all of which was daunting, but nevertheless exciting. However, the highlight of the camp was the amazing connections we formed with the other girls at the camp, most of whom were university graduates. Their kindness, passion and mentorship were inspiring, and we have truly made friends for life. As well as these girls, we have formed connections with leading players within the tech world which will aid us tremendously if we ever consider pursuing a career in technology.
This camp has opened up doors for me that I didn’t even know existed and changed my perception of technology and a career in tech. I would wholeheartedly encourage younger girls who love Maths and Science and are open to trying new things to apply in future years.
Emma Cooney (Year 11)
Over the Easter break, Emma Cooney and I attended the Young Women Leaders in Artificial Intelligence Camp. We didn’t know what to expect, neither of us having any previous experience in technology. We were nervous about being the youngest participants, with the program accepting young women from the ages of 16-26. We were given the opportunity to listen to, connect with and learn from some extremely progressive and inspirational women who have truly helped develop their fields. All of these women were willing to offer advice about what they were working on and how we could get involved. Everyone was treated as equals, which allowed for open discussions and the inclusion of alternate perspectives.
While we participated in lectures and workshops on everything from coding artificial intelligence software, leadership skills and ethics discussions, the main aspect of the camp was a start-up competition, where teams were tasked with using computer vision technology to solve real-world problems. Emma and I were together in a team of eight women, consisting of five 25 year-olds, a 19-year-old and us. Their skills ranged from graphic design to dietetics, business management to engineering, and it is fair to say we were initially a bit overwhelmed by the quality of discussion and ideas. Our project aimed to use computer vision technology to reduce food waste in hospitals and increase the detection, triaging and management of malnutrition because 50% of all hospital food is wasted and a high percentage of patients exhibit malnutrition.
We hope to continue this project with our team, in partnership with the Gold Coast University Hospital and Microsoft. While we cannot discuss the aspects of the project that will be continued into this partnership at this stage, we are very excited to see where this takes us. We see this as a research project with opportunities to be involved with the development of code, the business and social aspects of the project, and the potential to be involved with the writing of scientific articles and ethics applications.
We encourage girls with a Maths/Science passion to apply next year, as it is a truly amazing opportunity and experience that should not be overlooked. You do not have to have any experience in IT or be overly interested in the more technical aspects of artificial intelligence, just be willing to learn and investigate these new concepts that will have a major part in shaping our world as we move into the future. It is essential for young girls to be involved with programs within the IT space. If this technology continues to be developed primarily by one gender, it will be biased, placing women at a disadvantage. This program is a safe, supportive way for young women to enter into the technology world, explore and find ways in which they can combine their specific interests and knowledge in areas often completely unrelated to technology, with this developing space enabling unprecedented progress in these fields.
Annelies Alcorn (Year 11)