(WOMENSENEWS)–Tiny cars buzz around a classroom in the Stanford Gates Computer Science Building as eight teen girls look on, laptops in hand. These young programmers at SAILORS, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Outreach Summer program, are testing code for their mini self-driving cars.
These girls are part of a group of 32 females, all rising high school sophomores, who come from 10 states and five countries to be a part of the world’s only summer artificial intelligence camp for girls. Similar programs will run next year at the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University.
Developed in 2014 by co-directors Fei Fei Li and Olga Russakovsky, both leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), SAILORS aims to fix the gender disparity in AI by inspiring girls to pursue it. (The story’s author is a participant in this summer’s program.)
AI, the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, is rapidly becoming the most important and disruptive technology in society, according to analysts and industry representatives across the globe. Oxford University research estimates over half of all human work will eventually be taken over by machines. Their future capabilities, to sense, monitor, recognize and respond, depend on the insight of their builders and designers.
“One of the most critical and high-priority challenges for CS [computer science] and AI” is the shortage of women and minorities, states the National Science and Technology Council’s report “Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence.”
Unequal female involvement in AI can lead to conscious and unconscious sexism proliferating and imprinting on society as it becomes more reliant on advanced

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