Beyond the Hype: Experiences Developing Meaningful AI

by Shilad Sen | at Minnebar 17 | 10:20 – 11:05 in Bde Maka Ska | View Schedule

As AI advances, groundbreaking technologies like generative AI, deep learning, and word embeddings have captured the imagination of developers, sparking surges in prototypes and startups. However, many of these systems fail to make a lasting impact and fade away within a year.

In this session, I will share insights on how to build AI systems that matter. Although cutting-edge technologies like GPT-4 can be a catalyst for impactful AI, they can also lead to the creation of systems that fail to address user needs. I will discuss the essential questions I consider when tackling new AI problems and emphasize the importance of integrating qualitative methods, such as interviews, with algorithmic studies and interactive prototypes.

I'll ground this discussion in my experiences building and deploying AI systems, which range from building movie recommender systems for Blockbuster in the late 90s to creating large-scale AI systems for Target, and more recently for Microsoft, where I provide both hands-on and strategic scientific AI support for several major software products.

I'll dedicate the closing 20 minutes of the session for questions and for participants to share their experiences in building AI systems that have made a significant impact— or those that haven't! Join us as we explore the key strategies for creating meaningful AI solutions that stand the test of time.

All levels

Shilad Sen

Shilad is an Applied Scientist in Microsoft's Office of Applied Research and a Professor of Computer Science at Macalester College.

In his industry life, Shilad is a human-centered algorithmic expert who develops AI systems that have supported new and emerging problems for companies like Blockbuster, Google, Target, and Microsoft.

In his scholarly life, Shilad's work exploring the digital footprints of biases and inequities along dimensions such as race, gender, and geography has received major awards and been featured in venues like The Atlantic.

In his teaching life (his favorite of these!), Shilad loves learning alongside undergraduate students whose future selves tackle the toughest technology problems facing society.

... and in his semi-secret musical life, Shilad is a saxophonist who is active in the Twin Cities jazz scene and a devoted disciple of the legendary John Coltrane.

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