Ravy Por, the one who democratizes ethics in artificial intelligence

“I wrote my first line of code when I was 9 years old […] and made my first web page in high school. Born in Quebec to parents who fled the genocide in Cambodia, Ravy Por, now in her mid-thirties, admits: she learned the language of mathematics long before mastering French.

Ravy Por is a rising star of ethical artificial intelligence.

© Courtesy Ravy Por
Ravy Por is a rising star of ethical artificial intelligence.

This line of code, it always means the same thing. I find that interesting, because in French, a single word can mean a lot of thingsSays the founder of the organization Héros de chez nous, which democratizes digital literacy among young people.

Young, Ravy Por identified less with this complexity of the language of Miron, which seemed so far from Cambodian“. It must be said that Cambodian was the only language spoken at home with her older sister and her parents, for whom she played the translator on a daily basis, especially for invoices.

The famous command line – which a loved one taught her – was the first spark that led her to the field of technology, in which she has made a career today.

And this little spark, Ravy Por, now executive director of AI and emerging technologies at the prestigious accounting firm KPMG, is doing everything to make it sparkle in the eyes of young people in Quebec with Héros de chez nous.

Provide role models for young people

With this organization, the young woman – for whom volunteering has always been important – since 2018 democratizes technologies by popularizing digital literacy among teens and young adults.

She surrounded herself with a diverse team, the objective being to ensure that young people from minority groups were offered different examples of technology-related success.

Ravy Por, when she runs workshops, leads by example and discusses her story, her successes, but also her failures, this taboo subject that can make the difference in helping young people to open up, according to her.

I’m talking about the hard times, but most of all, how I got throughExplains the one who grew up in poverty without missing anything.

The organization is currently working on a series of educational video clips on the technologies surrounding young people, from social networks to video game professions, including data collected by web giants. Among the topics discussed is the important question of the ethics of algorithms in artificial intelligence.

Combat algorithm bias

When a database has only 10% women, but it has to be representative of the population, you have to rebalance that», Summarizes the baccalaureate in mathematics.

Ravy Por says she has no trouble making the topic of technology ethics attractive to young people.

According to his experience, students on school benches are already aware of these issues, and even have glasses about diversity that adults don’t have».

Inequalities, inequity, bias … teens are very sensitive to that. We see this a lot in the comments on social media, which somehow accelerated the process of youth activism.She believes.

This reflective support that Ravy Por does in class is ultimately a continuation of the work she does with adults with KPMG.

And prevention is better than cure, insists Ravy Por, who always makes sure to integrate interdisciplinary teams, ethics specialists and others, upstream of the construction of artificial intelligence algorithms.

It’s not an easy job, maybe it takes longer at first, but it helps prevent a lot of thingsShe believes.

The fact that artificial intelligence biases, whether racial or sexist, often make the headlines also lightens her task, as she no longer has to convince others of the value of a responsible algorithm.

A situation which allows him to confirm, once again, that the work of popularizing technologies is useful, and that everyone can get involved.

The community effect means that alone, you advance faster, but in a group, you advance further», She insists, referring to the Cambodian community which looked after her on a voluntary basis when her parents were working.

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