Researcher at the Norwegian Open AI Lab at NTNU
How did your journey in AI start - what brought you to AI?
I took my first ever course in AI when I studied physics at the NTNU many years ago, and will probably never forget how excited I was that entire semester. The course was about implementing a poker player in LISP (the world’s second-oldest high-level programming language, and a favorite in early AI development) and probably got me sufficiently hooked to return to AI ten years and a physics PhD later. A fun fact is that my office is now in the same corridor as that of prof. Keith Downing, who taught the course at the time - and still does!
What is the biggest change you have observed in AI compared to when you entered the field at the start of your career?
The increased awareness around ethical development, sustainability and responsibility. I’m not saying these have been solved, just that awareness has increased.
What excites you about working in AI, and what are you working on right now?
My main motivation for working in AI is understanding how knowledge and information can be acquired and represented - which is why I am currently, and probably for many years to come will be, working on explainability in AI.
How do you see the number of female researchers and professionals in AI grow? How do you involve yourself in initiatives to introduce more women to AI, and what initiatives can we make to inspire more women to pursue careers within AI?
How I see it grow? Far too slowly! Why is AI among the fields in which women are the most underrepresented (22%)? I think we need to identify the underlying reason in order to find the best solution (said the physicist).
Why is it important for more women to get involved in AI?
I’m sorry, but I hate this question. It is completely absurd that this is the question being asked, and not the opposite: How can we possibly justify that the development of a technology that is expected to affect and change large parts of society and the industry, is led by representatives of only a fraction of the world’s population? Balanced (gender, but also ethnic, etc) representation is crucial for fair and sustainable development of any technology.
What advice would you like to give women who are pursuing their careers in AI?
Follow your curiosity, find a good supervisor, and remember that happiness is most important.
What advice do you have for organizations who wish to recruit and retain female researchers and professionals in AI?
Those who try to attract women by saying they don’t have to program, can do work with design, can work on the softer parts etc: Stop it! These are fields in their own right, but insinuating from the get-go that you don’t expect women to be as capable programmers/developers/techies as men reveals subconscious sexism and is offensive.
Those that don’t: Keep recruiting, and don’t give up. There just aren’t as many women in AI as men - yet.
Who is your biggest role model within your field, and why?
I don’t have a role model, because I don’t think that idolizing humans makes sense. But I have always looked up to prof. Anna Lipniacka.
What role can NORA take on to empower diversity and inclusion in AI in Norway?
Keep doing what you do now :)
If you are interested in artificial intelligence in Norway, it is highly likely that you have seen Inga in a public debate about AI or read one of her many opinion articles in different newspapers. Inga has a PhD in particle physics, previously worked on algorithm auditing at PwC, and is currently a researcher at the Norwegian Open AI Lab at the NTNU. She received the University of Bergen’s outreach price in 2019, and was awarded “One of Norway's 50 leading women in tech 2020″. She is an international keynote and TedX speaker, addressing understanding, AI ethics and the potential impact of data analysis on society. On the one year anniversary of the Norwegian national strategy, Strümke was invited by the AI networks of Norway to discuss the status of AI in Norway today, where she highlighted the importance of fundamental research and diversity in AI