When presented with two sets of questions, one generated by ChatGPT—a new form of artificial intelligence that generates human-like conversational text—and the other by a team of writers, data scientist and Women in Data Science Conference speaker Gabriela de Queiroz quickly identified the correct authors of each. Asked how she had so swiftly distinguished between the AI-generated text and the human text, de Queiroz observed that the ChatGPT text was generic and formulaic, while the text produced by human hands was more creative and individualistic.
Media coverage of new technologies often present these technologies as inevitable and self-generating, rather than products made by human hands. As such, new technologies appear so all-encompassing, they seem impossible to challenge or change once they have been implemented.
Media headlines are rife with dire predictions about ChatGPT and the future of AI: Will it make writers obsolete? Will it lead to rampant cheating? Will it rewire our brains? Will it prey on the vulnerable? But when de Queiroz talks about her efforts to make artificial intelligence more inclusive, she takes a different approach to understanding the ever more influential and pervasive role of AI in contemporary societies.
Hailing from Brazil, and as woman in a field dominated by men, de Queiroz has reason to be skeptical of AI. Gender equity and minority inclusion in tech fields are uphill battles for leaders interested in equity and belonging like de Queiroz—and data science is no exception.
Currently, de Queiroz works as a principal cloud advocate at Microsoft where she leads the global education advocacy team. This team’s mission is to welcome, guide and connect the future generation of student developers and support them in thriving in a professional setting.
For de Queiroz, diversity is central to preventing harmful consequences and promoting fairness in new systems.
“A diverse team of developers has different backgrounds and different experiences,” she said. “They can bring their unique ethical considerations and insights about potential unintended consequences of AI systems” to the design and development of new technologies.
In light of the apocryphal media coverage of AI, it is understandable that many people see language models, like ChatGPT and other new machine learning technologies like Meta’s Make-A-Video, as the beginning of the end. Yet when discussing these challenges, de Queiroz remains optimistic regarding the future (and current) role that machine learning can play in our lives.
She has already seen some positive effects of ChatGPT in her daily work. Not having English as her first language, de Queiroz has been using ChatGPT for language translation, which saves her having to use multiple tools, as well as time.
“I don’t need to spend an hour [translating],” de Queiroz said. “Maybe I now spend 20 minutes.”
For de Queiroz, AI like ChatGPT has the potential to be a powerful resource and a positive force in our world—provided we recognize its limitations and work to address them.
This belief that the power of AI can be used positively, and that including diverse perspectives in its development is essential to doing that, is what inspired de Queiroz to found AI Inclusive, a worldwide organization that promotes diversity in the AI community and addresses bias and gender disparities present in AI.
One of the primary problems is who has access to these systems throughout the world, said de Queiroz. “You need, at least, a computer. You need to use the Internet.” And some communities don’t have these basic forms of access.
Even if communities that do have access to the necessary tools and internet, the culture of male-dominated coding and other online communities has often been inhospitable to women. To help address this problem, in 2012, de Queiroz founded R-Ladies, a world-wide organization dedicated to promoting gender diversity in the R statistical programming language community. Today, R-Ladies has over 100,000 members in over 60 countries, and its total outreach is even larger—a refreshing example of what can be achieved when advocates work together to build networks and communities.
ChatGPT and other machine learning systems are going to be scaled to be used for a wide variety of applications in the future. Indeed, in many cases, they already are. However, de Queiroz said, advances in artificial intelligence do not necessarily equate to a phasing-out of human involvement. In fact, these advancements require deliberate and collaborative involvement on the part of all those who may have been left out of conversations about AI in the past.
On March 8, 2023, de Queiroz and other women leaders in data science convened at Stanford University’s Women in Data Science Conference (WiDS)—a globally recognized conference focused on elevating women in the field of data science by providing inspiration, education, community and support. De Queiroz’s talk, “Embrace the Journey: Learnings and Inspiration From a Non-Linear Path into Data Science,” was geared toward those just starting out in data science. Other WiDS speakers highlighted the work still needed on inclusivity and bias before data science and AI technologies (like ChatGPT) can reach their full potential.
When we asked ChatGPT what needs to be done to improve AI, data quality and diversity were the first items on its list. Even the machines know that inclusive AI should be our priority.
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