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Martha Laguna

Martha Laguna

Role: Senior Technical Product Manager at Ethics and Society for Cloud AI at Microsoft

Resides: Redmond, WA

Why did you pursue a career in AI?

Data has always been my passion. It helps you learn more about your world, processes and systems, about yourself and society. It helps validate or discard hypotheses. It’s always teaching you new things. AI is about what you do with that data. I wanted to shape the way we use data, and to see how this knowledge could be applied to shape a better future.

What do you do for Ethics and Society?

My job is to understand and help engineers understand what it means to do responsible data management (from the collection of data to the creation of AI services), how it can be done, and how to build products that facilitate the process.

Why is data so important to AI?

Machine learning is about machines learning from data, so it’s critical we have a robust story that helps understand what data do you have, why does the data exist, who is using the data and for what. For example, if you don’t have data representing a community or specific demographics, you cannot create AI systems that represent those demographics. If we don't make a conscious effor to identify and reduce biases within our data processes, then machine learning will continue to amplify that which is wrong.

Another good example about the importance of data: think of a stick on a table. By being on the table it is just an stick, but once you weild it, the stick becomes a weapon. The same applies to data. Depending on how you use it, data can be weaponized, so having processes to avoid this from happening and reducing this risk is essential when we talk about data in the context of responsible AI.

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