Guest post by Isha Puri, Stanford AI4ALL ’16
AI4ALL Editor’s note: Meet Isha Puri, a 2016 Stanford AI4ALL alumna. In this post she shares her experience with creAIte, a two-day workshop that turned into an initiative with the mission to create a sense of community among girls and introduce them to AI through the lens of art. You may remember first reading about creAIte in an earlier post on our blog. Read on to learn about how the initiative has expanded, the impact creAIte is having on communities around the US, and how the support of the AI4ALL family has played a role.
Standing at the front of the room, I had never been more excited to have no one pay attention to me.
Not a single eye glanced in my direction — the girls were huddled in groups around their laptops, excitedly “creAIting” their own neural art pieces: designing neural networks, choosing style transfer techniques, and marveling at their results: beautiful AI art pieces with magnificent imagery. We were hosting our very first creAIte workshop — a two-day event in California that marked the beginning of an organization that I am so proud to help lead.
Artificial intelligence is now an integral part of our social media networks, the justice system, disease diagnosis, and countless other applications that completely shape the world we live in.
Two years ago, I cofounded creAIte (along with Ananya Karthik and Nandita Naik) to inspire young women, who constitute half the population but who remain minorities in the discoveries of and discussions surrounding AI, both to lead the forefront of this AI revolution — and to learn more about AI by being immersed in its artistic applications.
Ever since that very first creAIte workshop, we have worked with entities such as AI4ALL, NYAI, the YMCA, and the Kapor Center for Social Impact, and have organized workshops in areas like the Bronx, Manhattan, Oakland, Chicago, and San Jose to empower hundreds of girls nationwide. We have presented at conferences such as the MIT Technology Review EmTech Digital conference and GIRLCON, held workshops for economically underprivileged children in New York City, and organized a hackathon focused on the intersection between the arts and humanities. Our curriculum has also been utilized by several NYC teachers in their schools.
Looking back on our journey, I am so grateful that I have had the support of my AI4ALL family throughout all these years. The AI4ALL programs have fostered an amazing group of young women who support each other through all their endeavors and with all of their passions. We cheer each other on and have become close friends in the process. The community reflects my favorite elements of computer science and AI — the diversity it requires, the creativity it nurtures, and the immense applications that it has the potential to generate.
We have tried to reflect these same values in our creAIte workshops — to create a sense of community among the girls.
In an age where the number of women in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence is much less than the number of men, one of the most important things we can do is nurture a community among girls interested in the field. A community of women who will lift each other up, inspire each other, and empower each other to be our best selves.
At our workshops, the girls work in groups to explore artificial intelligence and use it to make art meaningful to them. Many of them often stay in touch with each other: we actually had two young women who met at one of our programs and later competed in our hackathon together!
As we continue to grow creAIte to reach and inspire as many young women as possible, we hope to inspire them to learn as much about artificial intelligence and the incredible impacts it can make in our world. Over time, I have realized that creAIte was not just a “girls coding” organization. We weren’t even just an “AI and art” organization. We were a community of firebirds — rising from our stories, taking control of our destinies, and supporting each other as we do it.
Isha Puri is a senior at Horace Greeley High School in New York, and a 2016 Stanford AI4ALL Alumna. She co-founded CreAIte with her teammates in 2016 to inspire girls all around the country to learn more about AI via its artistic and humanistic applications. Isha was a 2018 MIT THINK Scholar and won the 2nd Place Grand Award for her category at the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She is a 2017 Stanford SHE++ Fellow, and an NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Affiliate National Honor Winner. She enjoys participating in math competitions and pursuing scientific research at the intersection of health and computer science. When not doing something STEM-related, Isha enjoys playing the harp, hiking, dancing, and pretending to sing.