Women in AI: Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick wants to pass more AI legislation

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To give AI-focused female academics and others their well-deserved (and long overdue) time in the spotlight, JS has published a series of interviews focusing on notable women who have contributed to the AI ​​revolution. We’ll publish these pieces throughout the year as the AI ​​boom continues, highlighting important work that often goes unrecognized. Read more profiles here.

Dar’shun Kendrick does a member of the House of Representatives of Georgia, a position she was elected at age 27 in 2010. She has a storied career in policy, equity and technology, including the Small Business Development and Jobs Creation Committee and the Technology and Infrastructure Committee, where she is involved in the Artificial Intelligence subcommittee. She has also worked with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ Telecommunications, Science, and Technology Committee, and in 2019 she founded the Georgia House of Representatives’ first bipartisan Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Caucus.

Kendrick attended Oglethorpe University and received her law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. She is a lawyer and opened in 2017 a law and investment advisory firm to help women and black founders learn more about raising capital.

In short, how did you get started with AI? What attracted you to the field?

I started with AI because I was broadly involved in technology. I’m a securities attorney, so I help founders across the country raise billions in private investment capital and advise venture capital funds. So because of the work I do at my ‘day job’, I am always hearing about and being involved in capital raises with the latest technology.

I was and continue to be attracted to AI because of how interesting it is as a policymaker to find a balance between making people’s lives easier and ensuring that machine learning does not destroy our democracy and what makes us human disrupts. As an attorney, I’m also interested in it because VCs and founders in the AI ​​space seem to be bucking the latest trends of not raising as much investor capital as other subsets of technology. I have no idea why that’s necessary, and that’s what makes it fascinating.

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What work in AI are you most proud of?

During the last legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly, I served on a small AI subcommittee that passed legislation surrounding the upcoming elections and “deepfakes” created by political campaigns to influence elections.

It’s just a start, but I’m proud that the state of Georgia has started these conversations. The government tends to be so many years behind in catching up with emerging technology, so I’m glad we’re starting to look at everything around AI – especially generative AI.

How do you address the challenges of the male-dominated technology industry and, by extension, the male-dominated AI industry?

Show up. I get to go places where these otherwise male-dominated industries don’t expect me – events, conferences, discussions, etc. It’s the same way I was able to break into the male-dominated venture capital industry: just show up knowing what I’m talking about and providing something of value that the industry needs.

What advice would you give to women looking to enter the AI ​​field?

Produce. Women are used to multitasking. That, in my opinion, is one of the best applications of generative and applied AI. So I know that women can produce a new AI product to make life easier, because we are the ones who need it. You don’t have to develop the product; you just have to be a visionary. Someone else can build it. Show up. There are only so many spaces where we can be kept out. Keep learning. Technology changes so quickly. You want to be able to provide value when you get the opportunity and when you enter this space, so listen to YouTube and sign up for an email from someone talking about this space.

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What are some of the most pressing issues facing AI as it continues to evolve?

Fraud. Whenever there is a new technology, someone is cunning and cunning enough to figure out a way to use it for evil. Especially since it is AI, the most vulnerable communities, such as the elderly and immigrants, will be targeted. Privacy. Story as old as time and continues with AI. As you give the AI ​​machine more information about yourself, it gets better and better.

The downside is that it now knows and stores a lot of information about you. Data breaches happen all the time. Hacking is one thing. So it is a concern. Small business adaptation. The government, the legal field, financial services. All of these industries tend to be more conservative and slower to adapt to new technologies. But in this fast-paced world, slow adoption of AI is a recipe for small business failure. Government and business partners must find a way to redesign businesses to respond to the changing technology and business development landscape brought about by AI.

What issues should AI users be aware of?

You now have to question everything because of fraud and you have to be picky about the information you share with AI platforms. Furthermore, as usual, users should know that AI technology is only as smart as human input. So there is still the possibility of discrimination – think of AI in job applications – that can arise from its use.

What’s the best way to build AI responsibly?

Come up with a written ethical framework of ‘DOs and DO NOTs’ that focuses on privacy, data security, anti-fraud measures and ongoing reassessment of discriminatory issues with the system. Write down this ethical framework, share it with the team, and stick to it.

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How can investors better push for responsible AI?

[See above] and with responsible check-ins. Particularly companies that claim to focus on ESG [environmental, social, and governance] hold them accountable by asking the right questions, requiring a written ethics plan, and putting in place metrics to truly boast that it is an ESG investment.

What all of us – government, private sector and individuals – need to do is find quite quickly where the balance lies between innovation, which I love as a trademark of America, with rights – right to privacy, right to liberty, right to a fair process and non-discrimination. The sooner we understand that balance and take action, the better off we will be as a country and as a world.

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