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Women Leading The AI Industry: “The conversation is so narrowly focused on the technology, the human aspect takes a backseat and that is a mistake if we want diversity in the industry.” with Lindsey Parker and Tyler Gallagher

I think AI has a serious image issue. There’s the robot apocalypse thing, but it also looks really intimidating and inhuman from the outside. But the best in the AI industry never forget that all fancy tech HAS to be about people at the end of the day. The enterprise AI which is booming right […]


I think AI has a serious image issue. There’s the robot apocalypse thing, but it also looks really intimidating and inhuman from the outside. But the best in the AI industry never forget that all fancy tech HAS to be about people at the end of the day. The enterprise AI which is booming right now is all about streamlining work and freeing up people’s time for creativity. It’s about empowering people to work on what they’re best at, and off-loading the boring stuff. Framed that way, it almost sounds like HR — where the ratio of women to men is something like 3:1. I think the conversation is so narrowly focused on the technology, the human aspect takes a backseat and that is a mistake if we want diversity in the industry.

As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Parker. Lindsey is part of the Thought Leadership staff at Coseer, a human-centric AI company helping Fortune 500s to eliminate the mundane. Her interest in AI comes from whirlwind stints in product management and strategy which taught her to think about the nature of work itself.


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 dove right into corporate America very young. I started college at 16, took a job with a big electronics manufacturer, and quickly became a product manager with multi-million dollar P&L responsibility. I remember having business dinners with customers before I could legally share a glass of wine. Because everything happened really fast, before I could form strong opinions, I was able to keep a fresh perspective. I was the poster girl for asking “why?” It took some time, but I realized I was most interested in the nature of work itself. Why do we do certain things when there is an obviously better way? But I learned quickly that anything that seems obvious comes with obstacles and lots of ambiguity once you get past surface-level. And AI represents a real step-change in the way we think about work, and I wanted to be part of it.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

Question everything, and don’t be satisfied with the first answer that makes sense — the best ideas and insights I’ve had came after I thought I had solved a problem, but pushed myself (or someone else pushed me!) to dig deeper. Also, it’s important to have breadth as well as depth. Be curious, and look for opportunities to connect dots that don’t go together. Ideas can come from anywhere — some great things for me have come out of weekly brunch with my dad, a book I read when I was 17, and a random elective I took in college. You just never know, and that makes life exciting.

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

I’m really excited about the work we’re doing at Coseer. We’ve just launched what we’re calling “point-and-shoot” AI for enterprise. The algorithm works at 95%+ accuracy for almost any workflow, even with small datasets and without annotated data, so it’s actually simple… Not something AI deployments have ever been historically. The process has been eye-opening for me because through clients, I’m starting to see just how much chaos and disorganization we tolerate in our jobs. It’s amazing what delivering the right knowledge at the right time can do to empower people. It ignites them.

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’ve been lucky to have some amazing mentors, but the best teachers I’ve had have been the ones doing the work at the ground level. There are so many people I’ve worked with who have this incredible breadth of experience and had patience with my nagging questions. More recently, I have to especially thank Praful Krishna, founder of Coseer — I wouldn’t be here without his support and guidance, and I feel lucky to be a part of the world he’s helping to shape.

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

There are so many! For me, the two main buckets are philosophical and practical.

As a nerd, I’m super excited to see the return of some (tempered) optimism bubbling out of the AI conversation around mimicking human thought. This was the goal way back in the 1950s, but we’ve hit wall after wall. We’re still a LONG way off, but it’s starting to look possible again. And regardless of how long it takes, I’m excited by the journey. Tech like AI has the ability to teach us a lot about what it actually means to be human. The fear around AI, the free will issue, our “unique” ability for abstraction — AI debates have an a way of turning the lens back on us in a way that’s hard to do when we’re all out there just living our lives day-to-day. Just stopping to think about these things is incredibly powerful in my opinion.

Practically, one of the things that energizes me the most is the idea of explainable AI. It’s easy to make gut decisions, especially for experienced people who are often right — but how often do we check ourselves? It’s only human nature to get lazy once we start to feel we’ve “seen it all.” AI that gives us an answer along with a map of how it got there can help us identify our own decision points — and highlight trouble areas before we make catastrophic mistakes based on gut feel. And I’m excited about the democratization of knowledge… knowledge is and has always been power, but we’re so oversaturated now it’s hard to know where to find information you need, let alone who you can trust. At Coseer, we talk about this all the time. We want to help people in the furthest reaches of the world have access to the same accurate information as the most privileged today.

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

In the short term, because AI is such a buzzword right now, there’s a lot of noise. It’s like any boom and bust cycle. Speculation is high and rising, so there is likely to be a wave of disappointment soon. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just cyclical. There are some positives though — a bust would help get rid of any “false AI” providers that come along with any hyped-up industry.

In the medium term, I worry about AI’s ability to amplify the “echo chamber.” It’s easy to get by these days without having to face uncomfortable or conflicting viewpoints. You can just change the TV channel or filter your facebook feed. The echo chamber distorts information, and if you’re getting your news from a source using less-than-perfect AI, you’re likely to be getting biased info. There’s a lot of self-selecting which goes on outside of AI, but it’s important to be cautious when accepting information, especially when it’s aligned with your perspective. It’s human nature to lean on knowledge that supports your beliefs. This is a hard one.

In the long term, once lasting AI picks up steam and we start to see job shift, there are going to be people that aren’t well-positioned and end up worse off. If we start planning now we can hopefully mitigate this, but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think there will be growing pains.

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?

I think it comes down to fear of the unknown. Like any technology, there’s potential for progress and potential for danger and misuse. The idea of being destroyed by our own creation is very poetic and that makes the debate dramatic, but I can’t help being practical. There likely won’t be one single AI in this doomsday scenario; the US Government will have theirs, IBM/Cyberdyne/whoever will have theirs, several independent players will pop up… and then communication becomes an issue. Why should they all “agree” on a plan of action that would threaten humanity? And this is assuming all the worst — we have lost control and are completely helpless. There are just too many “what-ifs” to have a productive conversation. So many other things pose more immediate threats to humanity. Not that it’s not important to try to plan for the worst, though!

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?

As I said, it’s definitely worthwhile to think through it. But it’s a tightrope walk to try to regulate or plan for the future without stifling innovation. The interplay between government/regulatory bodies and companies is the best mechanism I can think of, but everyone has to participate for that to work. There’s nothing to be concerned about RIGHT NOW because the technology isn’t even close to being threatening. But we shouldn’t take this for granted — I wouldn’t assure the public of anything. If you’re concerned, then do your research and make your voice heard. Keep the conversation moving, and get involved if things start to go off the rails.

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

I’m not sure my “success” has brought goodness to the world because I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes person, but doing good is my main motivator as a human being, successful or not. I’ve never been one to play politics — for example, I’ve been reprimanded and told I “exposed myself negatively” to upper management because I stuck up for someone being publicly mistreated. Conflict is hard, and it’s so easy to rationalize avoiding it, but change doesn’t happen without it. I do what I can every day to take care of the people in my sphere on an individual level. It seems small in the grand scheme of things, but there is a ripple effect, and it keeps me going.

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?

First, forget everything sensationalist. We have enough of that thrown at us on a daily basis. AI is a tool — a powerful one, but a tool. And right now, the most we can hope for in the AI industry is to make better use or make accessible all the amazing insight that humans have already created. There’s nothing scary about that.

Second, try it out for yourself. Whatever application interests you, try as many demos, trials, etc. as you want. You’ll be amazed. I’m constantly thinking to myself “I wish I had this in college!” or “my dad would kill to have this at work!” It’s really motivating.

And third, I can’t think of many jobs in AI that need to be done from 9–5 in an office. There’s no reason not to have flex scheduling in this industry, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. We’re really lucky at Coseer in that everyone works remotely. Even in different time zones, we all have work-life balance that’s the envy of our friends. I don’t have kids, but I have a 4-month old husky puppy. She’s a handful… I’m sure she’d have ruined everything I own by now if I didn’t have the luxury of staying home to train her and watch her in between projects.

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

I think AI has a serious image issue. There’s the robot apocalypse thing, but it also looks really intimidating and inhuman from the outside. But the best in the AI industry never forget that all fancy tech HAS to be about people at the end of the day. The enterprise AI which is booming right now is all about streamlining work and freeing up people’s time for creativity. It’s about empowering people to work on what they’re best at, and off-loading the boring stuff. Framed that way, it almost sounds like HR — where the ratio of women to men is something like 3:1. I think the conversation is so narrowly focused on the technology, the human aspect takes a backseat and that is a mistake if we want diversity in the industry.

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

As I get older my favorites are coming from the Tao Te Ching. The one I think of almost every day boils down to “accept the fruit, reject the flower.” It’s a hard lesson but I’m learning to strip away what isn’t “real.” A couple of years ago I wanted to go to a Buddhist retreat to help clear my head and work through some growing pains. My best friend, who gives tough love better than anyone I’ve ever met, called me out. He told me that what I thought I needed was just wrapping — surface stuff. And he was right. I hated to hear it at the time because I didn’t want to admit that the imagery that I wanted for myself was shallow. But on the other hand, I learned that I already have everything I need. It’s just a matter of trusting myself and doing the work quietly, without pretense.

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 have a few ideas but I’m not ready to share. BUT I will say that a lot of the world still operates on late 20th century business models that are out of sync with modern values. I don’t have all the answers, but I think there’s huge potential for disruption just by questioning some assumptions. In fact, in lieu of my own movement, I would challenge anyone reading this list to take two ideas listed and see if they can’t be combined in some way. Down with assumptions!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Say hi on LinkedIn here — https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsey-parker/

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

Thank you!


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.

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