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Women Leading The AI Industry: “Take risks; Traditionally women are taught to think first about their safety, and to be cautious. This is a disservice.” with Kim Jackson and Tyler Gallagher

Take risks — Traditionally women are taught to think first about their safety, and to be cautious. This can translate into the workforce and lead to us not wanting to put ourselves out there if we don’t have 100% of the answers. This is a disservice; 99% of the time no one knows the answer. As part of […]


Take risks — Traditionally women are taught to think first about their safety, and to be cautious. This can translate into the workforce and lead to us not wanting to put ourselves out there if we don’t have 100% of the answers. This is a disservice; 99% of the time no one knows the answer.


As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Jackson, VP Strategy, Products and Governance at at Providence St. Joseph Health. Jackson has been at Providence St. Joseph Health for more than 15 years. She has focused on driving value and better health outcomes through analytics. Today her priorities are enabling scalable governed analytics to drive down time to value in healthcare and bring actionable data to caregivers.


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?

My entry into healthcare analytics was serendipitous. My original vision was to work as an actuary in an insurance firm, as I am a statistician at heart. I took a job for a local healthcare provider right out of college with a goal to find an entry level job as an actuary as soon as I could. I was taken right away with the mission and calling I felt in healthcare, and I have never looked back.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

It’s a cliché, but keep an open mind and heart. By taking risks you will open yourself up to new possibilities, and you will expand your perspective and might find a new passion.

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

Providence is engaged in many AI projects including Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) efforts to speed up cancer research studies and improve provider documentation. Patient records are filled with notes from all sorts of caregivers through countless encounters. This can make finding information on patients difficult because it is documented in various place. NLP will quickly identify key clinical facts (even when they are in unpredictable places), highlight inconsistencies that we might miss otherwise and help speed clinical research. Chart review can take hundreds of hours, but NLP support will drastically cut this time, allowing clinical researchers to focus on finding cures faster and ultimately save lives.

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?

I have been lucky enough to have many cheerleaders throughout my career. I am most thankful to mentors of mine who have helped me see through my bind spots. One helped me see that technical skill was only a small part of what is required to be successful, drive change and make impact. My first water shed moment was about 10 years into my career. I had always received glowing 5-star performance reviews. My boss at the time, shared with me some examples of how my communication style was reducing my effectiveness. I was too detailed and not aware of my audience. He took the time to give examples in a caring and constructive way. This was the worst review I have ever received… but it changed me and my career trajectory.

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

1. NLP will improve productivity by being able to summarize and prioritize important information. As “data” grows in our lives, we are spending less time connecting and more time processing, this will give us this time back. I need it!

2. Sensors / geospatial capabilities increases our ability to understand our world. Archeologists can assess future dig sites to improve their chances of making a discovery.

3. 3D printing allows for creation of artificial limbs quickly and cheaply, reducing suffering and improving quality of life for millions.

4. Machine learning will create the ability to shift from complete rule out testing to broad problem identification. Currently, most physicians have a hypothesis of a diagnosis and complete a rule out test. In the future, specimens can be tested for countless conditions saving time, as well as reducing missed diagnosis and bias.

5. Visual recognition will help identify abnormalities in radiology, reduce dependence on humans and catch diseases sooner.

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

1. Privacy: As the ability for companies and the government to gather data on us grows, so does their power. Ensuring that the balance of power for citizens is maintained and not misused is key. AI law and ethics will be fundamental.

2.Identify bias: As we use AI in more and more applications, we will affect lives in meaningful ways in every sector of life. AI uses historical data; unsupervised machine learning can misinterpret correlation with causation creating outcomes that can be lifesaving or disastrous. Careful application and review of impacts over time is important.

3. Misplaced Authority: We are seeing trends that the next generation believes that if information comes from technology then that information is fact. We will need to become more sophisticated in our ability to interpret and identify misinformation, rumors and opinions that are stated as facts.

4. Group think: Applications of AI result in personalized experiences. This can create comfort, but can also reduce exposure to alternate views, experiences and people. If we are not careful this will limit collaboration, communication, as well as create a fragmented society and encourage separatism.

5. Education/jobs of the future: As we automate more and more task-based jobs, we will need to ensure we change our education system to de-emphasize the importance of memorization and taking orders. Instead, the focus needs to shift to value logic, discovery and risk taking. If the education system doesn’t make this change our children will not be prepared for the jobs of the future.

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?

With any new advancements there are changes in how we interact with each other. I believe AI will create great and vast changes. Although there can be missteps along the way, we will adjust our culture and behaviors to account for these changes, and I believe we will become more inclusive. Democracy and the free market will create checks and balances that will support and foster good.

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?

No one can ever promise that bad things will not happen. However, advances in technology and IoT have resulted in transparent information, increased the speed of communication and driven the democratization of innovation. This progress has created open spaces to discuss and discern the ethical questions and decisions that AI and other innovations will bring.

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

I am lucky enough to work for an organization who has as part its mission statement, “serving all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.” As a core value of this organization, I have this as a motivation in our work and driver in every organizational decision. Being able to live this mission for over 15 years has been a blessing. In my personal life, I am an avid gardener and I love to share my crops in the community and those in need.

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

1. Take risks — Traditionally women are taught to think first about their safety, and to be cautious. This can translate into the workforce and lead to us not wanting to put ourselves out there if we don’t have 100% of the answers. This is a disservice; 99% of the time no one knows the answer.

2. Have a voice — Show up and speak up. Getting a seat at the table is more than half of the battle.

3. Get Started — By taking the first step, creating prototypes and testing hypotheses, you will gain experience, make progress and create value.

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

As AI becomes more democratized, a more diverse group of people and perspectives will enter the market. New applications will spark passion, and I think this industry will become more inclusive naturally. Representation does matter and when people can see themselves in role models they are more likely to dream of a future for themselves as well. Showcasing a diverse group of people and ideas makes this possible. So, thank you for giving myself and others a place speak about our passion.

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

I think I must go with Winnie the Pooh: “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I love this, and I think that it is perfect for those in the AI. When you are trying new things, many times you fail and must try, and try again. Grit, being steadfast and having the fortitude not to quit is the differentiating quality of those that will take us in to the new frontier.

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. 🙂

I think it goes back to my life lesson quote, and the promise of our great country. Every one of us has the power to make a change in the world. We just need make the commitment to ourselves to put in the effort and be our own personal best. This is all we can ask of anyone and it’s where I see inspiration each day. I believe there is greatness within each of us.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

linkedin.com/in/kimjacksonhealthcare

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

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