Community//

Women Leading The AI Industry: “I believe the media and the movie industry have a huge responsibility when it comes to changes in mentality and should work at promoting women in these roles.” with Caroline Lair and Tyler Gallagher

Today, AI and more globally STEM are seen as a male domain. To engage more women, we need more examples of role models in the field to inspire the younger ones to follow. I believe the media and the movie industry have a huge responsibility when it comes to changes in mentality and should work […]


Today, AI and more globally STEM are seen as a male domain. To engage more women, we need more examples of role models in the field to inspire the younger ones to follow. I believe the media and the movie industry have a huge responsibility when it comes to changes in mentality and should work at promoting women in these roles. At WAI, we’ve just started our WaiPEOPLE stories to bring attention to some of our amazing members.

As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Lair is the co-founder of Women in AI (WAI), a non-profit working towards gender-inclusive artificial intelligence (AI). Within WAI, she’s leading the first community of women experts and professionals in AI. This growing community is a gathering of over 1,600+ women from 80 different countries. She’s also part of the business team at Snips, a startup that’s building the next generation of private by design AI voice assistants. Prior to joining Snips, Caroline held various business development positions at Apple and Nik Software and joined Hardware Club investment firm as an investor and partner. Caroline holds two master’s degrees in business and international relations. Caroline is a genuine connector, passionate about bringing people together and creating impactful synergies.Caroline is also a strong AI enthusiast, convinced that AI can help identify and correct unconscious biases to work towards a more equal and inclusive society.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path?

I have a double degree in business and international relations. I’ve spent the last 10 years working in different types of tech big tech companies and ventures (Apple, Nick Software, Hardware Club venture firm) before joining Snips in the beginning of 2018. Through the years and exposure to innovative business and startups, I’ve started to develop a strong interest in AI because I see in it an incredible opportunity to solve some of the most challenging problems we are facing today.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

You don’t necessarily need to be an engineer or a scientist should you wish to use technology as a tool to serve your purpose. What matters is to share and connect with people that have similar interests. Through Women in AI, I’ve had the chance to meet so many impressive women and men, and I’ve learned a lot from them, which is helping me, on a daily basis, get closer to my dreams.

Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

I am currently working at Snips on AI voice assistants. It’s such an exciting venture as Snips is pushing the limits of what can be done with AI, even in the smallest of devices. Snips believes in privacy by design, and our team spent over four years researching AI, voice, and privacy issues.

Because I wish women to get way more involved in the AI revolution, I co-founded Women in AI (WAI) two years ago. WAI is a non profit working towards gender-inclusive AI, encouraging ladies to study STEM; supporting working women wishing to educate themselves about AI; and promoting awesome role models in the field. Today, I’m very proud to lead the first international community of women experts and professionals in AI, gathering 1600+ women from 80 different countries.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people that helped me get to where I am, but I’m certainly grateful to my amazing WAI co-founders Moojan Asghari and Hanan Salam. Together, Moojan, Hanan, and I are encouraging women to participate in AI and create gender-inclusive AI that benefits our global society. I’m also grateful for our 25 ambassadors all over the world, who are growing local WAI communities and work tirelessly to promote our values and vision. These women are our first role models! You can check out their profiles on our website womeninai.co

What are the 5 things that most excite you about the AI industry? Why?

I’m particularly excited by the potential of AI to help humanity address and maybe solve some of the most serious threats to our existence, such as climate change or diseases like cancer. I’m also a strong advocate of using AI as a tool to help identify and correct unconscious biases in our human decision making. These biases have been hardwired into our brains for centuries, but AI has the potential to lead us towards a more equal and inclusive society.

What are the 5 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?

Like every “industrial” revolution in humankind history, AI will bring some massive changes to every aspect of our lives, from our jobs to our healthcare industries. Here are five things that are top of mind for me:

  1. How AI and automation will impact current jobs
  2. How AI and automation will impact future jobs
  3. How algorithms will be used
  4. Establishing ethical regulations and frameworks for AI and its algorithms
  5. Ensuring global leaders align on a common set of ethical values shared by different cultures all around the world

However, it’s important to note that leaders also recognize the need for diplomacy of AI, and many organizations are already working on this framework, from IEEE to Unesco to the European commission.

As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?

It’s hard to ignore the ongoing debate around advanced AI and its potential, including its potential to pose a risk to humanity. I think we are still very far from a strong AI able to think like us and to demonstrate the kind of self-awareness to do something drastic like overthrow humanity. From a scientific point of view, we are nowhere near technology being at this level. Today, AI is only able to reproduce a tiny part of human intelligence, less than one percent. Of course, science-fiction is not really helping to demystify this storyline because it makes for an interesting plot, and for similar reasons, the media enjoys discussing these unrealistic catastrophic scenarios instead of showing the extraordinary benefits of such technology.

What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?

The debate around AI’s potential certainly highlights humanity’s concerns. Today, I think the main concern we should focus on is making sure we create AI that works toward improving our condition as a species and as a society. However, this means we need to regulate the industry, label AI on the market, and educate users so they’re aware and able to report if they think AI is not fair or used for the wrong purpose.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I try to bring goodness to the world both at my job and as the co-founder of WAI. At Snips, we have a very strong DNA around user privacy and data sovereignty. We develop voice technologies enabling users and companies to protect their data using edge computing, which is basically this capability to process applications and services outside of a data center. In the age of AI, users and companies rely massively on cloud platforms, but edge computing is key to developing some kind of counter power and technology that can enable the end-users to regain control of their data, instead of giving away all their personal data to a few huge companies.

As a co-founder of WAI, I’m also trying to bring a contribution when it comes to the place and role of women in the field of AI. AI is reproducing our behavior and will impact every single aspect of our lives tomorrow. Mastering and controlling AI will also be a source of influence and power. Women represent half of humanity, and we need them more than ever to engage and get in this revolution if they don’t want to be left on their own or excluded.

At WAI, we’re working to increase the participation and representation of women in AI through our growing community of 1600+ women experts and professionals in the field. Our WaiTALK event is putting women experts on stage, and our educational program Wai2GO is growing the next generation of women leaders in AI.

As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would advise other women in the AI space to thrive?

  1. Trust yourself — think about the career path you want and the choices you need to make to get there.
  2. Never stop wanting to succeed in tech or AI — don’t let other people’s prejudices stand in your way.
  3. Surround yourself with inspiring people who can mentor you and give advice.

Mentorship is exactly what we do at WAI; we work to bring the next generation of women tech leaders to the forefront of relevant conversations.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?

Today, AI and more globally STEM are seen as a male domain. To engage more women, we need more examples of role models in the field to inspire the younger ones to follow. I believe the media and the movie industry have a huge responsibility when it comes to changes in mentality and should work at promoting women in these roles. At WAI, we’ve just started our WaiPEOPLE stories to bring attention to some of our amazing members.

It is also key to educate girls and young women from an early age. WAI is developing its Wai2GO educational program, which offers introductory workshops on robotics and AI in schools; provides support and mentoring programs for teenagers willing to embrace a career in STEM; and gives masterclasses for working women in companies willing to discover or specialize in an AI technique.

Finally, it is imperative to create a long-term sense of support, giving girls and young women a community that allows them to find advice and peers to support them throughout their career. This is the very DNA of the WAI Community.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

My favorite life lesson quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending”.

It’s a very inspiring quote that I repeat to myself every day in my work at Snips and WAI. I’m truly amazed by humanity’s will power to create change. I see this in the WAI community — as women in tech, we’re making strides to close the industry’s gender gap, even though women have had to face centuries of gender biases. I also see this will power in the efforts of companies like Snips; thanks to technology, these companies are helping us move towards a better society.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Personally, I’m pretty concerned about climate change. At the end of the day, why work for a better society, for a better AI, if we can’t make an impact on our beautiful Earth? I wish climate change and reducing global warming were our priority number one, and I call on the whole tech industry and AI specialists to use the amazing power of AI to preserve and save our home.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I hope we can connect on Twitter and Linkedin! My user handle is: @ca_lair. I also encourage your readers to connect with Snips and WAI on social media. Snips can be found on Twitter as @snips and WAI can be found on Twitter as @women_in_ai.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


About the Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and United Arab Emirates focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. Prior to founding Regal Assets, Tyler worked for a Microsoft startup led by legendary tech giant Karl Jacob who was an executive at Microsoft, and an original Facebook board member.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.