10 minute read
Women for the Future
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I'm hopeful that progress in intelligence and AI tools can lead to freeing up more people to spend more time on education and creative pursuits — I think that would make for a wonderful future for us.
Success in this job comes with much greater satisfaction than success in any other job I’ve had.
Learn as much as you can not only from academic institutions or NGOs, but from people on the frontlines and those who are being the most impacted by climate change. Attend events, visit places if you can, to see first hand how people are dealing with the issues, and find out how you can help them become more resilient. Sometimes it is as simple as showing them a website they didn’t know about, or telling them about grants and other resources to protect their homes from floods.
AI policy is a nascent but rapidly growing field. I think this is a good time for women to enter the field. Sometimes women are hesitant to enter a new discipline because they don’t feel they have adequate knowledge or experience. My work has taught me that you can quickly learn on the job and that you can apply the skills and knowledge you already have to your new job.
Don’t be too intimidated or impressed by senior people and 'important' people. Most of them don’t actually know as much as they come across as knowing.
Women should embrace and dive into this new area of thinking about the future of humanity. Male dominance in past millennia in shaping the world and in how we approach the universe, humanity, and life needs to be questioned. More broad based, inclusive, non-confrontational and equanimous thinking, which is more typically associated with the female approach to things, is sorely needed in this world.
Seeing the huge turnout of school kids and young people at climate change demonstrations gives me hope for the future. The next generation of leaders and decision makers seem to be proactive and genuinely interested in addressing these problems.
AI is a really exciting field to work in and there is a real need for people with diverse academic backgrounds - you don't need to be a coder to make substantial contributions. Make use of existing women networks or write directly to women researchers if you would like to know what it is like to work at a particular organisation or with a particular team. Most of us are more than happy to help and share our experiences.
Carla Zoe Cremer
My ideas are taken seriously and my work is appreciated. The problems in existential risk are hard, unsolved and numerous — which means that everyone welcomes your initiative and contributions and will not hold you back if you try something new.
I feel I'm surrounded by people who care deeply about life and addressing large and complex risks. I feel this field's focus, while grim on its own, is also intrinsically coupled with the desire and hope that the future can go well. I remain hopeful that if we can navigate the next century safely, a better existence awaits us and our descendants. I am inspired by what could be possible for conscious life and I hope that my career can help ensure no catastrophic event occurs before our future is secured.
Don’t allow other people to define your dreams and don’t allow them to place limits on what you can do. And just as important, if not more so, don’t limit your own potential with soul-crushing self-doubt. A little self-doubt is okay and quite normal. But when it begins to keep you from taking big risks necessary to discover your strengths and path, you have to fix that right away or that type of thinking will fester.
If you find something that moves you — be it further developments in an established field, a way to combine existing fields to create new ones, or something that’s entirely off the beaten path — pursue it. The act of pursuing the things that fascinate you is the real experience you need. If you can combine this with something that’s useful and beneficial to this world, you’ve won the game.
You can probably learn things much faster than you expect. It's easy to think that learning some new skill will be impossibly hard. I've been surprised a lot of times how quickly things go from being totally overwhelming and incomprehensible to pretty alright.
I'm a pretty optimistic person at baseline, but particularly so after getting to know the incredible people that compose the x-risk community. They care so deeply about engineering a positive future for humanity — I feel tremendously grateful to have the opportunity to work with them!
My advice to women is to believe in what they are and what they are passionate about, to behave according to their values and attitudes without trying to mimic anybody else, and to be fully aware that their contribution is essential for advancing AI in the most inclusive, fair, and responsible way.
It is a rare, sometimes overwhelming, always humbling privilege to be in a position to work directly on a challenge which I believe is one of the most important facing us this century.
Entrepreneurs: make sure that your company is competitive, that you have innovative processes and/or products. And I will paraphrase Michael Bloomberg: 'Hire honest people who are smarter than yourself.
Jessica Cussins Newman
Don't discount yourself just because you think you don't have the right background — the field is actively looking for ways to learn from other disciplines.
If I have advice, it would be to be clear about who you want to be in your life and what you stand for — and then go for it.
Climate change is at this incredible nexus of science, culture, policy, and the environment. To do this job well, one has to bring to the table a love of the environment, a willingness to identify and fight for the policies needed to protect it, a sensitivity to the diverse range of decisions people make in their daily lives, and a fascination with the nitty-gritty bits of the science.
I've found the [existential risk] community extremely welcoming and respectful, so I'd recommend it highly to any woman who is interested in pursuing work in this area.
Underrepresented perspectives — women, people of colour, and other intersectional identities — are highly valuable at this point in uncovering blindspots. Your concerns may not currently be represented in the research community, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. There is low replaceability because if you weren’t there it wouldn’t be any single person’s main focus. When you’re a minority in the room it’s even more important to overcome audience inhibition and speak up or a blindspot may persist.
Study what you are passionate about and not what you think will get you a job.
Be brave. This is our world too, we can’t let it be shaped by men alone.
The other people working in this field are so fiercely intelligent and capable. It's hard not to have a conversation which leaves you with a perspective or idea you hadn't thought of before. This, and the knowledge that one is doing useful and important work, combine to make it very rewarding.
Read, talk to others that work in the renewable energy industry, identify where in the value chain you want to contribute, and go for it!
Rasha Abdul Rahim
[W]hen people around the world and civil society can think of a potent idea that’s worth fighting for, and stick at the concept however long it may take, and develop the proposal to get traction from political leaders, we really can make a difference.
The recent elevation of conversations about the importance of racial equity and inclusion makes me very hopeful for our future. I believe solving the big food and agricultural issues we are facing will require not only the voices, but the leadership of a diverse set of people.
[S]o many extremely able people are trying to make [the future] good.
I'm a big advocate for diversity. We're trying to solve big, important problems, and it's worrying to think we could be missing out on important perspectives. I'd love to see more women in AI safety!
Domestic and international dedication to addressing climate change is continuously growing. Though we are far from where we need to be, I remain optimistic that we’re on a promising path.
Do not ever underestimate yourself and what women bring into the world, this field or any other. Our talents and skills are needed, and so are you!
Find your passion, produce the research that supports your policy recommendation and demand the space to say your piece. I always think to the first US woman that ran on a major party for President- Shirley Chisholm, she said “if they don’t give you a seat, bring a folding chair”. I think about the fact that there are (some) more seats now, and that’s amazing. There is still a long, long way to go before equity, but there are some serious efforts to move closer to that day.
It's great to see more and more talented and motivated people entering the field to work on these interesting and difficult problems.