Brigite Peposhi, like so many, is right at the beginning of her career in AI. She’s about to put her studies into action, flying from her native Albania to start an exciting and challenging role working on Robot Process Automation, AI and Machine Learning in Germany. Before she embarks on her first assignment, Durtti wants to know what Brigite has learnt from her AI journey so far.
As part of your Masters Thesis on Artificial Intelligence and the Semantic Web, you have been creating a tool that helps intelligence agencies to solve crime using potential witnesses from social media. Tell us more about this tool and how it came about, Brigite.
I worked on my thesis on the Semantic Web. In this thesis I have created a simple tool which uses Facebook check-ins in order to find potential witnesses for a crime which has occurred in the location. I have used the ontology of criminal domain knowledge (SCOnt), represented by Sule Yildirim and Edlira Kalemi in their work. In this thesis I highlight the importance of using ontological representation of information and finding new perspectives on the way of aggregating and processing the information using intelligent techniques such as data-mining and match-making. In this work I am focused on solving crimes, but my future work is to analyze data (comments, images, friends, check-ins, etc.) from social networks in order to prevent crimes.
Currently I am working towards publishing my thesis to be presented at international conferences, whilst at the same time, I am also further developing my tool, like semantic similarity of words.
What, or who, inspired you to become a computer programmer? Was it a quick ‘lightbulb’ moment or did you consider it for a long while before choosing this fascinating career path?
I always loved science and technology. When I had to make a decision about my studies, I was looking for something challenging, competitive, fascinating, and which would be relevant and useful in the future, so I become a computer programmer. I am glad to say that it was a great decision – I am very happy for having chosen this career path for myself!
You have written on LinkedIn (Read ‘Girls In IT’ here) about your own experiences of how you were discriminated against for being a female in software development. What was the one most memorable and surprising fact you learnt in researching this article?
Being a woman in software development is very challenging considering the fact that most people in my experience consider programming to be “a profession for males”. When I wrote this article, I did some research looking for facts and stats about women in programming. The most surprising fact I found was that researchers found GitHub software repositories approved code written by women, at a higher rate than code written by men, but only if the gender was not disclosed.
It is ironic then, that, to my knowledge, the very first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, was a female! I think this heritage speaks volumes about about the true power of women in AI and the huge potential opportunities that exist for them in this field.
What do you believe will be the 3 most significant benefits of AI implementation on society in the next 5 years?
Artificial Intelligence along with machine learning, robotics, and internet of things is already transforming the way we live and work. I believe however that the 3 most significant areas to benefit will be healthcare, lifestyle and industry.
Firstly, healthcare. From robots performing surgery to nano-robots capable of curing damaged cells. Also, our approach to health and healthcare systems will change.
Secondly, the impact of AI will be strongly felt in our lifestyle, starting with smart cities and neural networks. They will be the first applications in this area – smart homes and the “boom” in AI applications, gadgets and smart cars.
Thirdly, and just as significantly as health and lifestyle, AI will significantly impact every aspect of industry and commerce, including super efficient production and delivery of goods and products.
What one business skill do you believe humans will always excel at over machines?
I think unstructured problem-solving in the case of situations that are not predictable or relating to new information, and which require “human” instinct – and being human.
Career aside, as a human in life, we all face challenges from time to time and we all have different ways of dealing with them. How do you try and turn a bad day into a good one?
At the beginning of my career, turning a bad day into a good one was very challenging. I exercise regularly, almost daily, which makes me feel good and I am less likely to have bad days at all. I listen to music, almost all the time while I am working, which also makes me feel relaxed. But sometimes, when I really feel bad, for any reason, I just rest, go out for a walk or a coffee with my best friend and a short conversation brings my good mood back!
You mentioned Mathematician Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) earlier. Ada, as you know, was the first person to recognise that Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine had applications beyond pure calculation, and she published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. What one question would you have if it were possible for you to meet Ada today?
Ada Lovelace theorized a method for the machine to repeat a series of instructions, a process known as “looping” that computer programs use today. Considering the computer languages available now and the seemingly infinite amount of data machines have to handle nowadays, my question would be if she ever wondered what impact might her (then revolutionary) discovery have now?
Finally, Brigite, with the benefit of your own experience, how would you go about inspiring a class of primary school girls to make them very curious and excited about a potential career in computer programming?
There are 5 key things I would do to encourage them to explore a future career in computer programming.
I would start by making them curious about what programs are and what they do, by showing them games or apps they already use or know about.
I would then show them how these programs are created and what sort of job titles and roles the people who make these apps have.
I would also try to inspire them with real life examples, showing them inspirational videos of young girls coding.
Then I would talk to them about the future of technology and the way that computer science can help all of us in every aspect of our lives.
Finally, I would encourage them to be part of this by showing them how to start to code, giving them the tools needed and to develop and join them on different projects, specifically dedicated to them.
Brigite is a member of The Artificial Intelligence Group on LinkedIn.