Inioluwa Raji a Nigerian based in the US, has been named among Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in AI. Raji was recognised for her work in ensuring that companies’ AI products do not cause undue harm to users.
She was listed among the ‘thinkers’ category for inquisitiveness and passion for helping AI companies.
Time magazine is renowned for its annual celebration of global influencers across different spheres of life.
According to the media firm, her inclusion in the prestigious group which comprises rivals and regulators, scientists and artists, advocates and executives, was for her remarkable contributions to AI growth.
What to know about Raji
Times Magazine stated that Raji’s journey started in 2017 as an intern at Clarifai, a machine-learning company in the US. During her time there while helping the startup train a content-moderation model intended to filter out explicit images, she noticed that the model was disproportionately flagging content containing people of colour that was not explicit.
Raji raised the issue as the programme was “filtering the world to be whiter than it actually is”. Raji’s discovery further prompted a shift in her focus away from the startup world, towards AI research, where she began to focus on how AI companies could ensure that their models do not cause undue harm. Her research focus was also to better understand and challenge products before they are implemented at broader scales.
She told Times Magazine:
“As a default, a lot of the models that we developed had (data) where a pornographic image that was supposed to represent the (explicit) content was more diverse than the stock images that were supposed to represent safe content”.
“If I would say we need more diverse data, the response I got was, ‘It’s hard enough to get any data, why would we be thinking about making more complex choices?’ “It became clear to me that this is really not something that people in the field are even aware is a problem to the extent that it is.”
Speaking on regulations and long-term effect and measures, Raji said it is up to developers to provide transparent evaluations of their products and the harms it poses.
She added: “A company’s product is evaluated on a benchmark that tells a very nice, clean story. They’re not mandated to protect their users on anything from privacy to honestly communicating how well the system will work for that user.”
Reacting to her nomination, Raji also took to X account to express her excitement. “Lists like this can feel silly but I don’t take for granted any opportunity to highlight the work I’m fortunate to do. “Feeling especially grateful. Excited for what’s to come!”.
Raji’s career journey
Raji has worked with Google’s Ethical AI team and collaborated with the Algorithmic Justice League to create strategies for “external auditing” on its ‘Gender Shades audit project, Microsoft, and Face++.
She is presently a Fellow with the Mozilla Foundation (a global nonprofit focused on internet protection).
FG seeks researchers to develop an AI strategy
Meanwhile, in another report, the Federal Government has announced plans to work with top researchers, both local and international, in Artificial Intelligence.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, is leading the initiative. The plan is to help develop a National Artificial Intelligence strategy to reposition Nigeria for the new world.
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