D211 Post: Conant Students Learn of AI Morality and Designing Their Own Careers

Jacquelyn Krones tells students at James B. Conant High School about her pathway to her career at Microsoft.

            Students at James B. Conant High School gathered in the school’s auditorium to hear from Jacquelyn Krones, principal ethics strategist in cognition at Microsoft.  During the discussion, Krones spoke about her work with artificial intelligence (AI) programs, ranging from facial recognition software development to its ethical use.

            In discussing the development of the software, she described some of the principals of its future use.

            “We’ve developed a set of facial recognition principals specifically because there are so many challenges with this particular technology,” she said.  “They include making sure we develop the technology in a way that works fair for everyone, making sure we’re clearly communicating what the capabilities and limitations are, helping our customers deploy it in ways where people remain responsible for output decisions, making sure our technology is not used to discriminate, providing notice and consent, and ensuring we support regulation and we don’t take on clients who would use this to unlawfully surveil people.”  

          Krones then informally polled students on their thoughts of facial recognition being used for a variety of actions including identifying criminals, unlocking electronic devices, or determining the potential demeanor of people in the area.

Jacquelyn Krones discusses the principals of facial recognition AI during a presentation at James B. Conant High School.

In discussing her career path to her current position, Krones told students that she is doing work that she never imagined she would be doing at a younger age.

            “Are you sure about what you want to do?” she asked students.  “If so, that’s great, but if not, I think you’re doing really well too.  The work I’m doing now is the most challenging and satisfying work of my career, and I never would have imagined that I would be doing this when I was 18, or 28, or even 30.”

            She explained that her only five-year plan was to answer peoples’ questions on what her five-year plan was.  She described her path as one that was not well-worn.  She explained how she went from position to position, and how she helped develop new positions when she saw a need.

            “You are what’s next,” she concluded.  “At least some of you will be inventing your careers in the future.  Most of you will be involved with technology in some way, even if you aren’t a developer.  I’m a social psychologist working in technology and it’s very necessary for me to be there.  You’re going to need to find your own way, and it will be different for you than it was for me.  I can’t wait to see what you do.”

A student from James B. Conant High School asks Jacquelyn Krones about upcoming developments in AI.

            Following the presentation, Krones answered students’ questions on a variety of AI developments.

            Junior Kimaya Parmar said that hearing about Krones path to her current career was inspirational and influential for her.

            “I like how she talked about her background and how she got into what she does.” Parmar said.  “It makes me think about my future.  I learned that you don’t have to be focused on any one thing.  You don’t have to decide on what you want to do as soon as you leave college.  She showed that you don’t have to follow a path.  There are going to be experiences that come up that make you change your decision.”

Students at James B. Conant High School applaud following a presentation by Jacquelyn Krones.

            To see Krones’s full presentation click here.