Dr. Olga Russakovsky

Dr. Olga Russakovsky

Emerging Leader Abie Award

Dr. Olga Russakovsky is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. She is one of the leaders of the ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge, and has been recognized as one of the world’s top young innovators. Her current research considers the historical and societal bias within visual recognition and the development of computational solutions.

Olga has also co-founded groundbreaking initiatives to improve access to computer science and public understanding of artificial intelligence.

Better Artificial Intelligence

Olga studied mathematics at Stanford University and remained there for her doctoral studies. While at Stanford, she developed an algorithm that could separate selected objects from the background

Olga worked on mechanisms to reduce the burden of image classification on human annotators, by asking fewer, and more generalized, questions about the images being inspected. Olga was a lead author on the follow-up ImageNet Challenge paper, which expanded out ImageNet, the groundbreaking database of millions of images that is now widely used in computer vision. According to Google Scholar, which includes citations of the pre-print of the article on arXiv, this work has been cited over 16,000 times.

Olga has emphasized that while the workforces designing artificial intelligence systems are not diverse enough, only improving the diversity of computer scientists will not be sufficient for rectifying algorithmic bias. Instead, she has involved training deep learning models that de-correlate protected characteristics such as race or gender.

AI4ALL – The Future of AI

Olga believes AI solutions will be more innovative, more ethical, and will solve new problems when AI is created by groups that reflect the world we live in. She co-founded and currently serves on the board of AI4ALL, which looks to improve diversity in artificial intelligence and develop future AI technologists.

AI4ALL looks to keep bias out of artificial intelligence by educating people from diverse backgrounds about computer science, machine learning and policy. The initiative teaches students that AI can be a powerful tool to solve problems they care about, like climate change, misleading news headlines, and disease diagnosis.

AI4ALL highlights that AI can also exclude or harm certain groups of people, especially when a diverse set of AI creators is not involved in developing the technology. Because AI can reflect the biases of the people creating it, AI4ALL emphasizes the importance of including a wide range of people and perspectives in the AI field. Olga and AI4ALL believe that when we expand our definition of who can be an AI maker, the resulting systems and products are more creative, more powerful, and solve a broader range of problems.

As part of founding AI4ALL, Olga led a summer camp for high school girls. She ran the first summer camp in 2015, named the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Outreach Summer Program (now Stanford AI4ALL). Olga now co-directs the Princeton camp.

At AI4ALL Summer Programs, students are immersed in hands-on learning and mentorship by top AI practitioners, and supportive peer networks on campus at top universities. AI4ALL welcomes high school students who self-identify as part of an underrepresented group in AI, including but not limited to:

— Young women and non-binary students

— LGBTQIA students

— Students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in AI

— Students from lower-income backgrounds

The Abie Award Selection Committee commended Olga for developing AI as a tool for social good, both through her individual research addressing algorithmic bias in AI and the co-founding of AI4ALL to help develop and support a diverse future generation of AI technologists.

Olga in 2020

Olga is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University. She is also affiliated faculty at the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning and the Center for Information Technology Policy.

Olga is the author of more than 20 highly cited academic articles. You can learn more about Olga’s research here, and follow @ai4allorg and @princetoncs on Twitter.