Twenty-eight women, mostly senior undergraduate students, began the six-week program on May 14.  Doina Precup, left, a McGill professor and the head of Google-affiliated Deepmind’s Montreal office, along with Angelique Mannella, a former senior McGill official are launching a new program in Montreal as part of an initiative called AI4Good. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette A Montreal program is trying to help get more women working in artificial intelligence.

Twenty-eight women, mostly senior undergraduate students, began the six-week AI4Good summer lab on May 14.  Almost none of the participants have any experience with AI or machine learning, said Doina Precup, one of the program’s creators. The program, now in its second year, aims to give participants the background and the confidence to continue in AI, whether that’s by studying it in graduate school, applying the technology in other areas or by starting a business, said Precup, a computer science professor at McGill University and the head of Google-affiliated AI company DeepMind’s Montreal lab.

In 2017, only 20 per cent of tech workers at Google were women, according to the company’s diversity report. Other large tech companies have reported similar numbers.

“The fraction of women in the tech industry is lower than, I think, all of us would like and the same is true for AI,” Precup said. She would like that to change.

“This is not just because it’s good for the women or other minorities that are under-represented to be at the table,” she said. “It’s also good for the team in a research lab, or in industry, to have this diversity because multiple points of view lead to better solutions for problems.” The program mixes traditional teaching styles and new approaches, said Angelique Mannella, one of the program’s creators. Read more from montrealgazette.com…

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