Anne Cathrine Gjærde
Dean of The Faculty of Science and Technology, NMBU
I’m not an AI-researcher myself, but as dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology I have made an effort to put data science on the strategic agenda. I have also had the pleasure of being a member of the board at NORA for some years now. It has been especially exciting to be part of the early strategy process for NORA, together with a bunch of truly dedicated and inspiring colleagues from universities and research institutes from all over Norway.
AI is an integral part of many of the research projects at NMBU, especially at my faculty. We use AI in several fields, like intelligent water resource management and solutions that reduce spillage and increase water quality, in intelligent energy systems, in smart farming solutions that increase plant and animal health and reduce waste, in the food industry to reduce waste and increase nutrition value, and in health care and brain research. We educate students in robotics and data science, where we emphasize technology and AI solutions that benefit society and the environment. I’m proud to say that surveys show that NMBU students are the most content students in Norway! And students in our master’s program Data Science are topping the list. We believe that focusing on applied AI is key to engaging even more young people to pursue a career in AI to solve societal challenges.
The areas where AI can make a difference are so many. In fact, AI is pivotal to all the UN sustainable development goals. Even goal 17: Partnerships for the goals. Because technology and human beings need to work together to create a sustainable future.
It is especially important for more women to be engaged in AI because we need diversity. As a dean I have made it a priority to foster a culture for innovation and human-centered technology. And one of the strongest drivers for such a culture is diversity. We need diversity in AI to identify which problems we need to solve, to structure data, design solutions and train algorithms. Without diverse teams behind the solutions, AI can suffer from cultural bias and lose value.
My best advice to increase the number of females in AI is to seek diversity. It is not only a question of recruiting more women. We need to go beyond that. There is no “one size fits all” in AI, and there shouldn’t be. It’s important to form cultures where differences can flourish, as this is the true driver for innovation. AI enables the future – and diversity matters.
About Anne Cathrine
Anne Cathrine Gjærde is a physicist and holds a PhD in Electrical Power Engineering from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She is Dean at the Faculty of Science and Technology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. She has a former career as a research scientist in SINTEF and has held different leadership positions in both private and public businesses in Norway, Denmark and at the Nordic level.