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AI4ALL Comes to Salesforce

Students, creativity and artificial intelligence came together at Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco on Thursday, as local high school students joined Salesforce technology and research insights leaders for a special educational event. At the AI Exposition, students with a deep interest in AI got to learn about analytics and artificial intelligence from a collection of leaders in these fields.

Event organizer Yakaira Nunez, Senior Director, UX / User Interface, Salesforce, said the goal of the event was to provide underrepresented high school students with an opportunity to learn how to apply design thinking to AI and engage directly with Salesforce’s AI leadership team. “AI can be accessible to youth and at risk populations, as long as there is a path for them to access professional and personal networks. This event was all about helping these teenagers build relationships with leaders in AI to help them build connections and lay out a path for them.”

Marco Casalaina, Senior Vice President of Product for Salesforce Einstein, spoke to the students about key components of effective machine learning and AI applications. He noted that such applications focus on some common types of predictions, outputs and ingredients:

1. Yes/no Predictions

2. Numeric Predictions

3. Classifications

4. Recommendations

5. Voice

6. Workflow/Rules

Casalaina discussed the emerging categories of vision- and voice-driven AI applications. “Let’s say I take a picture of this room,” he said. “I can begin to ask questions about the picture, such as whether or not there are people in the picture and, how many there are, and more. Conclusions can eventually be turned into real recommendations. In voice applications, ASR (automated speech recognition) is a key first step for applications that make recommendations.”

Casalaina’s presentation was followed by an exposition featuring the students’ AI-focused projects. These projects included:

· A sophomore’s application for analyzing language and media coverage surrounding the Democratic candidates for the U.S. Presidency. Her application leveraged language parsing, data analytics, and more.

· A sophomore presented her “Disaster Relief NLP” application, designed to sift through the many types of messages that are communicated during natural disasters, categorizing the messages by whether or not the senders need immediate help. The application relies on natural language processing (NLP) to triage messages. She noted that the application gained accuracy as it processed more training data.

· A senior showed her Digital Optic Device project, which is a glove driven by a Raspberry Pi (miniature computing device), that has circuits in its fingers allowing it to control phones, TVs, household appliances and more. The glove has been tested as an accessibility solution for the visually impaired.

· A senior showed her application designed to analyze large water-focused datasets to provide better understanding of water contamination. Her application leveraged machine learning, and has identified causes of contamination impacting the Colorado River.

The event was hosted by Salesforce in partnership with AI4ALL, an organization that focuses on creating opportunities for underrepresented students in the field of AI. AI4ALL leaders showed data confirming that there is a diversity crisis in the field, and encouraged students to take advantage of training opportunities. Among other offerings, AI4ALL hosts summer camps where students can learn about AI, and provides assistance with finding internships.

Are you interested in engaging with AI4ALL or mentoring the students who participate in its programs? If so, you can get started through our Pro Bono Program, with more information found here.

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