August 23, 2021

AI, Ethics & Empowerment: The MIT FutureMakers Program

Breaking barriers and embracing diversity: Unveiling my transformative experience with the MIT FutureMakers program


From July 6th to August 13th, I had the privilege of being a part of the MIT FutureMakers program, an educational initiative that transformed my perspective on technology and innovation. This transformative experience allowed me to delve into the world of artificial intelligence (AI), learn valuable technical and professional skills, and contribute to the ethical development of AI solutions. In this blog post, I want to share my personal perspective on the program, emphasizing the significance of diversity in AI and the ethical considerations that shape its future.

Phase One: Guided Self-Paced Learning

The journey began with an immersive phase of guided self-paced learning, where I dove into the fundamental concepts of machine learning, explored machine learning frameworks and libraries, and acquired the skills to train powerful AI models. Through a carefully curated virtual curriculum, I navigated the intricacies of AI with the support of dedicated mentors who provided one-on-one guidance and fostered a sense of accountability and motivation. This phase highlighted the importance of accessible education and mentorship in creating pathways to success for individuals from underrepresented communities.

Through a series of engaging workshops and practical sessions, we delved into various areas of technology, including coding, robotics, design thinking, and more. The hands-on nature of the program allowed us to apply our newly acquired knowledge immediately, fostering a deeper understanding and igniting our creativity.

Phase Two: The AI Makeathon - Fostering Innovation and Impact

As I transitioned into the second phase of the program, a world of creative possibilities opened up before me. Collaborating with a dynamic and diverse team, we embarked on an exciting AI Makeathon, where we set out to tackle real-world challenges using AI-based solutions. This phase not only emphasized technical prowess but also nurtured an entrepreneurial mindset. With the guidance of experienced mentors, we engaged in a process of ideation, iteration, and development, culminating in the creation of innovative AI projects with the potential to make a tangible difference.

My AI Project: Empowering the Visually Impaired

During the AI Makeathon, I had the privilege of working on a project close to my heart: developing an app to assist the visually impaired in identifying objects in their surroundings. Leveraging the power of computer vision and speech recognition, our team aimed to enhance accessibility and independence for individuals with visual impairments. This endeavor highlighted the ethical dimension of AI, emphasizing the importance of inclusive technology and considering the diverse needs of different user groups. In the words of Mary Pat Radabaugh, Director of IBM’s National Support Center for Persons with Disabilities, “For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible” Detailed information about this project, including the source code, can be found on my GitHub repository.

Pitching Ideas and Industry Recognition

During the AI Makeathon, we had the incredible opportunity to pitch our ideas to a panel of industry experts. This platform allowed us to showcase our creativity, problem-solving skills, and the potential impact of our AI projects through an entrepreneurial lens. I was honored to be spotlighted for my stellar performance and was interviewed by the CEO of SureStart, Taniya Mishra, highlighting the significance of my contributions. You can watch the interview on the SureStart Instagram page.

The Importance of Diversity and Ethical AI Development

Throughout my journey with MIT FutureMakers, the significance of diversity in AI became increasingly evident. As AI technologies continue to shape our world, it is crucial to include voices and perspectives from diverse backgrounds. By embracing a range of experiences, cultures, and viewpoints, we can ensure that AI systems are built ethically, with fairness, accountability, and transparency at their core. This program’s commitment to training and mentoring individuals from underrepresented communities is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable AI landscape.

Conclusion: Inspiring change and shaping the future

Participating in the MIT FutureMakers program has been an enlightening and transformative experience. The combination of technical skills, professional development, and ethical considerations has prepared me to be an AI builder and changemaker. As I reflect on this journey, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the ethical development of AI and to advocate for diversity and inclusivity within the field. Armed with newfound knowledge and a strong sense of purpose, I am excited to apply my skills to create positive change in the world through AI. You can visit my GitHub repository to explore the projects I worked on during the program and view any source code.

Let us celebrate the power of AI, diversity, and ethical considerations, as we shape a future that benefits all of humanity. Together, we can build a world where AI is harnessed for the greater good, and where every individual, regardless of background, can participate and thrive. Remember, the journey doesn’t end here. Let’s keep pushing boundaries, nurturing creativity, and transforming ideas into reality. The MIT FutureMakers Program has sparked a flame within me, and I’m excited to embark on the next chapter of my journey.

Stay tuned for more updates and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to collaborate on future projects. Together, let’s shape the world with innovation and make a lasting impact!