While munching on breakfast, the girls engaged in the daily Q&A session, today with Christopher Manning, professor of computer science and linguistics at Stanford. Specialized in computational linguistics, Prof. Manning answered questions campers raised on the challenges natural language processing (NLP) faces when deciphering languages that are not nearly as explicit in meaning as is English.
Professor Manning then led a lecture addressing the ambiguity of language and the problem with multiple interpretations. The girls learned why the ability for machines to really understand is critical to machine translation. Manning emphasizes, “viewing thought and reasoning like language leads to the symbolic view of classical AI.”
Following the lecture was a tutorial led by Idit Kosti on the Fisher Exact test and using statistics in gene expression analysis.
Lunch was exciting with Maria Klawe, first female president of Harvey Mudd College, joining in and really getting to know the girls.
Despite the packed schedule, research project time was not neglected. In fact, campers managed to spend nearly three hours learning and coding for their respective projects projects.
During today’s personal growth session, women in industry currently working for top companies like Google, Airbnb, Intel, and Baidu shared their experiences and gave advice to the girls on being female in computer science. When asked what the most important traits to have in order to be a successful engineer are, the panelists replied “communication” in consensus. One woman explained, “As women, we have tendency to hold back.” Others emphasized just how important it is to speak up to others and to fight the natural urge of women to dismiss their own individual thought. Another panelist from Airbnb explained, “I think the perception is changing…a lot of people are now more encouraged to pursue other passions other than what they are expected to.” Adding on to that thought, a woman from Google encouraged having other interests related to computer science too that can help girls identify with and understand the coding work they do even more.
Keynote Speaker: Maria Klawe
Maria Klawe delivered an influential talk on diversity in schools, both in gender and in race. Maria Klawe’s philosophy on a healthy learning environment is helping and learning from peers and faculty of diverse backgrounds and gender, a culture she has successfully ingrained into Harvey Mudd College. She has brought both males and females to equal proportions at Mudd, and has risen the percentage of minorities such as African Americans or Hispanic people. A firm believer that change is possible, she’s now with SAILORS in asking the world: What’s stopping institutions elsewhere from doing the same?
While SAILORS campers, parents, mentors and friends from industry seated in the patio just outside the Gates Computer Science building, Professor Fei-Fei Li, Iro Armeni, and Olga Russakovsky delivered welcome and closing speeches, and discussed just how important it is for girls in their early years of high school to start getting exposed to AI and computer science. Because these are the girls that are going to be the leaders of tomorrow in changing AI and the revolutionaries pushing for humanity.
Then came what everyone was waiting for: the exciting presentations on the four research projects by the girls themselves! The girls explained each of their projects, from assisting with disaster relief using natural language processing to making hospitals safer with computer vision, and from decoding DNA to find meaning in the genome to predicting the future of personal transportation with self-driving cars. Each girl had the opportunity to speak on what the project means to them personally to an audience seating over a hundred people. The girls came out confident and absolutely showed their eagerness and enthusiasm!
What a long and exciting day! We hope the girls get well rested for another day of AI and fun!