This Bloke Is Helping Make Artificial Intelligence Less Racially Biased

Artificial intelligence can sound like a daunting and extremely other-worldly topic, but it’s actually being used to enhance our day-to-day lives in many interesting aspects.

Let David Provest, client technical leader at IBM with a background in software engineering in artificial intelligence, take the reins.

Firstly, you may ask, what is AI?

“The key around AI is using a heap of data and then understanding trends from that instead of explicitly coding.” So if normal programming uses rigid coding, AI learns through experience.

Secondly, you may also ask, how can AI help us?

In many ways. For example, David helped to build an autonomous driving car back at uni that analysed video feed and was able to recognise the road and its obstacles. More recently, David’s IBM colleagues went down to Bondi Beach with a body scanner to analyse data and help recognise the presence of melanomas.

Interestingly, he’s also worked on removing bias from facial recognition and data sets. David and his team found that, in many instances, AI often had trouble recognising the faces of people with non-white ethnicities, as it was trained on white men.

“If you have biased data, then your AI’s going to be biased,” he noted. “So we just released the most unbiased data set, which might have been around 100,000 faces.”

This removal of biased data sets is a prime example of social activism through technology.

David is also involved with developing digital assistance to help customers with their online experience.

“A digital assistant uses AI in the background to understand the language and think, you know, what’s the question you’re asking it and how best to answer that [question].”

As for his humble beginnings, it was an interest in gaming that ultimately led David on a path to AI. “I thought games were pretty cool and I wanted to try building one for myself… I started by building a calculator, and that was the start of my journey.”

“My calculator could only add stuff,” he adds. Hey, please don’t be modest, buddy. building a calculator is pretty damn impressive.

He heralds Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia for fostering the next generation of inspired creatives and kickstarting their journey with a slick new degree in AI. “My advice to any aspiring to get into the AI industry would be keep up to date… AI’s going to change the game.”

Inspiring stuff.