Day 10: Research Projects, AI and sustainability, and cloud crowdsourcing for task automation

Day 10 kicked off with research project lectures! The computer vision group worked as a group through a Jupyter notebook tutorial on Python Numpy, while the robotics group learned about how control algorithms and feedback loops can be applied to autonomous vehicles. Campers in the robotics group also tried to program their robots to follow a line. The NLP group discussed conditional probability, Bayes’ rule, and marginalization, then did a short problem set to practice what they learned. In the computational biology group, students finished learning about random hyperplane projection classification and learned LaTeX.

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A guest lecture by Assistant Prof. Stefano Ermon followed the research project lectures. Prof. Ermon discussed how machine learning and computer vision can be applied to satellite data to determine the poverty levels of a specific region. This can be done by examining an area’s night time light, roads, tall buildings, houses, traffic, farmland, swimming pools, and more. Ermon talked about the challenges, purpose, and solution to the project, and introduced the idea of transfer learning, which is when knowledge learned from one task is used to solve a different but related task. Ermon also discussed how this can be applied to evaluating farmland for food security and productivity purposes.

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The campers had a lunch outdoors with their research instructors, and returned to free time with their research mentors. Many research projects used this time to prepare for their banquet presentations tomorrow.

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After independent work time, PhD. student Ajay Mandlekar presented about cloud crowdsourcing for task automation. Ajay’s project aimed to create a system for collecting task demonstrations as scale, so that robots could use the data for machine learning. The current problem is that there lacks a large amount of training data for robotics. This project tries to resolve this. The campers had the opportunity to test the system out, and some were able to control the robots from a phone.

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The day concluded with independent work time.

Blog post and photos by Lauren Yang

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Day 9: Human-Robot Interactions, Reinforcement Learning, and Chats with Fei-Fei Li and Jeannette Bohg

Campers started the day in their research groups. The computer vision group discussed various features that could be help identify poverty in an image and learned how to extract an image’s features, such as by using color histograms to store the color features. The robotics group worked on coding small robots to follow a black line, while the NLP group discussed evaluation metrics such as precision, recall, and F1 score, then worked on calculating these metrics for the rule-based tweet classifiers that they had created yesterday. The computational biology went through some linear algebra material such as normalizing vectors and calculating dot products, and they put these mathematical functions into code.

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Photo by Anna Wong
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Photo by Anna Wong

The students then heard from Stanford Professor Dorsa Sadigh, who talked about human-robot interaction in the context of autonomous cars. Prof. Sadigh emphasized the importance of making robots safe and explained how in autonomous driving, the actions of the autonomous car will affect the actions of humans. Researchers can anticipate what a human will do in certain situations, and thus use these expected responses to make robots safer and more efficient.

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Photo by Anna Wong

The campers spent some time with their research mentors in the afternoon, working on problem sets and asking questions from the morning’s lesson.

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Photo by Michelle Lee

Next, campers got to see two demos. Master’s student Jerry He presented his work with the Gibson Environment, which is a project at Stanford that creates a virtual environment of a real-world location to train robots how to behave with deep reinforcement learning.

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Photo by Anna Wong

Jerry let some of the students test out a demo set in a virtual environment of the Gates building at Stanford.

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Photo by Anna Wong

Then, PhD student Ranjay Krishna talked about his work with the Visual Genome project. Ranjay explained that today, most AI systems are simply trained and then deployed to the real world, and they don’t learn from their interactions. The Visual Genome project uses bots that can interact with humans and learn from these interactions through social media. Like in the Gibson Environment project, deep reinforcement learning is used to train the bots – a bot will see an image and ask questions to learn new information, and based on the response it gets, the bot learns what kinds of questions to ask next time in order to gain new knowledge.

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Photo by Anna Wong

After dinner, the girls headed over towards Lake Lagunita to have a chat with AI4ALL co-founder Professor Fei-Fei Li, and Professor of Robotics Jeannette Bohg. The campers were full of questions for these two amazing women. They discussed their paths to computer science, tips on how to be confident, the importance of diversity, how to find supportive friends, life advice, and much more.

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Photo by Anna Wong

The campers ended their Fourth of July by making s’mores around a campfire and dancing and singing together.

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Photo by Anna Wong
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Photo by Anna Wong

Blog post by Anna Wong.

Day 8: Research Projects, Natural Language Processing Guest Lecture, and Human Computer Interaction Guest Lecture

The day began with research projects! Campers in the computer vision group learned about arrays and matrices and how these data structures can represent an image. Students in the robotics group learned about the different levels of autonomy, and the NLP group talked about various classifiers and discussed what counts as AI. The computational biology group learned the basics of molecular biology, such as what DNA is, how proteins are made, and what causes mutations.

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After research projects, campers had a guest lecture by Prof. Chris Manning, who talked about natural language processing and how it is applied to speech recognition. Prof. Manning discussed how text games sparked his original interest in NLP as well as numerous other aspects of NLP, such as how computer science can be combined with language and linguistics.

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The girls had office hours with their research project leaders after lunch. During this time, campers can work on problem sets, simulations, and ask for help from their project leaders.

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A guest lecture by Prof. James Landay was after office hours. Prof. Landay’s lecture was about human-computer interaction, and he discussed how strategically manipulating our cellular device use can encourage positive and healthy physical activity. Prof. Landay also discussed a project he was involved in that would encourage environmentally friendly behavior through human-device interaction. The lecture concluded with Landay’s current project where he is working with a team to develop and design buildings better catered to maximize our efficiency and comfort.

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The academic day concluded with independent work time, where campers could work on homework or ask clarifying questions.

Photos and blog post by Lauren Yang.

Day 7: Field Trip to Google and Python Programming

Today, campers took a field trip to the Google headquarters in Mountain View! Google employee Molly Welch, who works in artificial intelligence marketing, brought the group on a tour of the Google visitor center, where they learned about Google’s history and had a chance to take pictures with Android statues, explore the Google Maps street view, and play in the famous ball pit.

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Campers then met creative technologist Cynthia Le, who showed them several fun demos of artificial intelligence in action. They saw a piano that composed and played its own concertos, a drum machine that could complete a beat for you, a computer that could guess what was being drawn, and more.

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Campers test out the intelligent drum machine.

Afterwards, the campers headed over to a panel with several Google employees who work with artificial intelligence and machine learning: Wolff, Debi, Kathryn, Jackie, and Victor. Molly led the panel, asking the five employees to discuss how they ended up working in AI. The panelists all agreed that they hadn’t had very direct paths to AI or started in that field. They also stressed the importance of communication, collaboration, and an open-mind.

The panelists then split up and spent a few minutes talking to each table of students, who were full of questions about life at Google and working in AI.

The campers then had lunch at Google’s cafeteria, with everyone agreeing that they loved the food.

Reflecting upon the trip to Google, one camper, Riya, said that “it was interesting to see the different ways that the employees working in AI got into the field.” Noemi, another camper, added, “I especially found it interesting that two of the seven people [we met today] didn’t have a technical background, which I was very excited about because I’m also very interested in humanities, as well as tech and computer science.”

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After the students got back to campus and enjoyed some free time, they had their final lecture with Eugene. The lecture covered many important topics in computer science, especially as they relate to the Python programming language. Eugene talked about the different object types, introduced campers to the concept of abstraction, explained how memory works, and discussed references and objects.

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At the end of his lecture, the girls presented Eugene with a card to thank him for all the work he put into teaching them in the past week.

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Blog post and all photos by Anna Wong.

Day 6: Scavenger Hunt and Carnival!

Campers began the day with a scavenger hunt that sent teams searching for landmarks and buildings all around campus. The fun continued after lunch, as the girls went to a carnival with tons of food and activities. Campers made friendship bracelets, played mini golf, tossed bean bags, competed in a water balloon toss, and ran around in Zorb balls. The carnival also included a petting zoo with chickens, rabbits, ponies, and other cute animals, as well as giant versions of Connect Four and Jenga. The campers were also able to enjoy treats like popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream.

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We hope the campers enjoyed their weekend and are ready for their second week at AI4ALL!

Blog post and all photos by Anna Wong.

Day 5: Alumni Panel!

This morning, campers had a few hours of well-deserved free time. Many students went out to explore the Stanford campus and go to bookstore, while others gathered around the piano and sang with each other and with their counselors. In the afternoon, the girls watched The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and spent some time playing fun games together.

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Campers play a game of Poison Dart Frog.

Campers then met five alumni of the AI4ALL camp and had the opportunity to ask them questions about their experiences with AI4ALL, high school, research, and more. The alumni explained how the program guided their career goals, with many of them noting that AI4ALL had sparked their interest in computer science and research. They described the challenges they’d encountered since the program and offered advice on a variety of subjects, from not giving up on research to handling microaggressions in the workplace.

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The campers were inspired by the way these women chose to pass on their knowledge from AI4ALL by teaching coding classes and organizing all-girls hackathons, and many campers were curious as to how they could do the same. The discussion continued through dinner, as the five alumni stayed to continue answering questions during the meal.

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Blog post and all photos by Anna Wong.

Day 4: Classification, Computational Biology, and Hearing from Telle Whitney

Eugene continued his lecture on machine learning this morning, this time with a focus on classification. He explained that binary classifiers can be evaluated using metrics like sensitivity, specificity, and precision. The lecture focused on two main classifiers: decision trees and Naive Bayes. Students created an example of a decision tree that could help them decide whether or not to buy a certain item from a grocery store. To better understand the Naive Bayes classifier, campers thought back to their first lecture with Eugene on probability and statistics and looked at an example of classifying whether or not an email is spam.

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Eugene explains how to evaluate a classifier.

Eugene touched on various other supervised learning algorithms such as k-nearest neighbors, logistic regression, and support vector machines, as well as a few unsupervised approaches, such as clustering and principal component analysis.

Campers then heard from Stanford Professor Anshul Kundaje, who explained how machine learning is used to identify the genomic causes for certain diseases. While manually sequencing a person’s DNA would be incredibly time-consuming, advances in technology have made it possible to speed up this process immensely, making it much easier to collect data on the human genome. Unsupervised machine learning can then be applied to this data to find variations that may be related to certain diseases.

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Prof. Kundaje suggested that artificial intelligence will greatly impact the future of personalized medicine, as individuals will be able to receive personal diagnoses and treatment suggestions based on their genes.

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Students go up to Prof. Kundaje after his lecture to ask questions.

After lunch, Wells helped the girls review the machine learning concepts they’d been learning the past few days.

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Campers then got into their research groups for the first time. This year, there are four research groups: Computational Biology, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Robotics. After introductions with their mentors, the students were given an overview of their research fields and the projects they’d be working on for the next two weeks.

Campers then had the special opportunity to hear from AI4ALL board member, Dr. Telle Whitney. Dr. Whitney told the girls her story of how she became a co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute.

Campers were inspired to hear how Dr. Whitney struggled with imposter syndrome but overcame it, and they were left with the advice to make connections, take risks, and surround themselves with supportive mentors and friends.

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Campers were incredibly inspired by and grateful towards Dr. Whitney.

We hope the campers have had a fun first week and are enjoying all they’ve learned so far!

Blog post and all photos by Anna Wong.