The Founding Letter of the AI Guild

Chris Armbruster
Jul 16, 2019 · 6 min read

The open letter by AI Guild members for current and future AI Guild members

Dear AI Guild members

We met on 25 May 2019 for the launch of the AI Guild. We are 100+ AI professionals from more than 30 countries collaborating and supporting each other. Intentionally, half of the initial members are men; and half are women.

We ran the AI Guild purpose workshops for members to establish a joint starting point. We launched the AI Guild to foster the accelerated adoption of AI.

This first letter outlines the mission and values of the AI Guild. We summarized the purpose workshop results and outline key activities for 2019, which we ask you to support as either organizers or participants.

All AI Guild members are invited to provide feedback, and on 25 May 2019 we agreed on what we do, who is contributing, how we proceed — and go public!

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The AI Guild Mission

“Never mind that I don’t have any impact, my role is not even meaningful.” – Anonymous Data Scientist

Organizations struggle to implement Data Science and Machine Learning, particularly in Europe. Moreover, members of the public often are ambivalent in their attitude towards artificial intelligence.

The AI Guild mission is to accelerate the adoption of AI across industries and also in the public and non-profit sectors for the progress of humanity so that, for example, we

  • Help decarbonize the world’s energy consumption by improving the renewable energy match between demand and supply
  • Work on meeting the mobility needs of the eight billion citizens across the world by providing a more effective and cheaper transport while reducing emissions and casualties to zero
  • Strive to improve healthcare diagnostics and making it fully accessible across the world
  • Privilege ‘Friendly AI’ and question, criticize and publicly inform when we notice the unethical and immoral use of artificial intelligence
  • Support people in finding meaning in their life and work, increasing prosperity, health, and happiness

There is no quick-fix. Organizations implementing Machine Learning or even adopting an AI-first strategy often struggle as they move forward. Even the more successful data-driven startups sometimes experience challenges with rolling out the business case or improving the career path for their experts.

Accelerating adoption means conjointly pursuing increased data accessibility, expertise ramp-up, and business cases with user traction. This pursuit has two intertwined and mutually supportive dimensions

  1. The expertise ramp-up of the growing AI Guild inviting all practitioners to join
  2. Enabling organizations to achieve a proof-of-concept encompassing traction with users, in-house expertise build-up, and real-time data pipelines

The AI Guild Values

AI Guild activities are carried out in alignment with our values. Every AI Guild member accepts these values, is fully aware of them, and committed to act in alignment.

  1. We strive for the ethical application of AI that contributes to the public good and the progress of humankind
  2. We value diversity and do not tolerate discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, nationality, background or abilities
  3. We treat each other and our partners with respect, fairness, and kindness, and communicate transparently and honestly
  4. We favor the best idea wins approach over personal interests
  5. We take responsibility for every action we take
  6. We promise confidentiality to our sources

We will develop our own Code of Conduct, but until then we follow the Berlin Code of Conduct.

Summary of the Purpose Workshops

The AI Guild purpose workshops on 06 April and 11 May 2019 were hosted by Sven Krüger and attended by 20 members: Amélie Anglade, Baran Alimardani, Chris Armbruster, Rachel Berryman, Dânia Meira, Dina Deifallah, Gelavizh Ahmadi, Elena Jolkver, Frank Hüttner , Irina Vidal, Karthick Perumal, Leyla Allahyarova, Macarena Beigier, Marcel Ackermann, Markus Hinsche, Matteo Guzzo, Orlando Ciricosta, Irena Bojarovska, Patrick Baier, and Tristan Behrens. Notably, all efforts at elaborating the AI Guild purpose looked either at the AI Guild as an expert community or suggested that the AI Guild provides a service to companies for the accelerated adoption of Data Science and Machine Learning.

Among the community approaches, the one evaluated as the most convincing suggested that

  • The AI Guild is the go-to place for data experts, overcoming the isolation and loneliness of individual practices, and thus a place to grow and benefit from each other by creating, sharing, and multiplying experiences.

Among the commercial approaches, the propositions jointly evaluated as most relevant are

  • Diversity AI consulting: Approaches to AI must be ethical. Businesses are afraid of ‘getting it wrong’ and having the implementation hurt their reputation as well as the bottom line. The AI Guild’s unique, diverse composition of expert practitioners make us most suited in helping organizations build and scale successful products with in-built diversity and ethics.
  • Beyond the hype: We are in a hype cycle and artificial intelligence is everywhere. This fosters unrealistic expectations and creates misunderstandings about what is possible. As an international group of experts, we are capable of tackling this issue, bringing awareness and clarity to business.

On further consideration, it was noticed that the AI Guild does not yet have the organizational capacity to provide full-time services. However, ‘beyond the hype’ may be implemented via workshops and related formats, and thus this is a viable first step.

Activities in 2019

In 2019, we empower the community by sharing experiences, and we pursue the accelerated adoption of AI by engaging organizations interested in establishing meaningful use cases based on Data Science and Machine Learning.

Community Activities

We multiply experiences for the community of practitioners by doing the following

  1. Career interviews: Conducting and publishing career interviews with AI Guild members to compare and contrast career paths for the benefit of the worldwide community of experts and talents
  2. Coaching: Run support sessions in which AI Guild members (only) share experiences and coach each other, as well as offering practical tips for the CV in pursuit of advancement or new challenges
  3. Freelancer exchange: Support members being or becoming freelancers, and helping each other with management and technical questions

The expected outcome is raising awareness about the variety of career paths and the industry or freelance roles while winning new community members and empowering these to have more meaningful careers with impact as defined by the AI Guild mission and values.

Accelerating the Adoption of AI

We work on exploring ways of accelerating the adoption of AI beyond the hype by doing the following

  1. AI Guild Dinner: Inviting key decision-makers in organizations as well as experienced practitioners to the monthly AI Guild Dinner for an informal discussion of key issues and roadblocks in implementing Machine Learning or adopting an AI-first strategy
  2. Pilot workshops: Focus on getting the management of interested organizations on-board, and developing actionable steps for the accelerated adoption of Data Science and Machine Learning
  3. Targeted outreach: Form a publishing guild on Medium, writing up ‘beyond the hype’ events, insights, and experiences, and reach out to a) company AI decision-makers, b) experienced practitioners, and c) the wider community.

The expected outcome for the AI Guild is a first product-market fit that generates leads, i.e. identifying 3–5 organizations for a proof-of-concept encompassing a compelling AI use case, expertise ramp up, and data accessibility. We check that they are able to execute a paid proof-of-concept successfully.

Go Now!

  • We start investing: Think about what you want to do and let the others know via feedback
  • On 25 May, please select an activity that you support and draw a timeline of activities from June to September 2019
  • In the autumn we re-evaluate the scope of activities and host a larger event to share the development achieved
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AI Guild

The Network for Professionals Advancing AI Adoption.

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