TEENS IN AI-2018 DAY 1–23RD AUG’18

Acorn Aspirations
3 min readAug 28, 2018



A jam-packed day 4 at Wayra began with a talk by Alessandro Recinoand Galiya Warrierfrom Microsoft Azureentitled ‘Data and AI’. They discussed Microsoft’s approach to data and AI, which focuses on the person using the technology, and how they are using it, rather than the technology itself: “what is a hammer without the person holding it?”

Other topics included reasoning, AI principles, and ethical AI. Alessandro and Galiya explained reasoning as being the extraction of conclusions from data, and they also mentioned the importance of interpreting the meaning of data in addition to interacting with people in natural ways. Democratising AI and major technological breakthroughs from the past few years were also discussed. AI principles noted by the pair included: fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, transparency and accountability. In relation to ethical AI, they elaborated on the fact that “technology can allow us to do a lot, but we have to find the boundaries”, in addition to the truth of “it’s not the algorithms themselves [that are] biased, but it’s the programmers that are”, and that “human beings will always have the final say”.

In a more positive light they also touched on AI’s cognitive capabilities in relation to helping groups of people who might struggle due to various disabilities, and AI’s help in identifying illegal mines from aerial images. Teens described this talk as “very detailed and they both gave us a lot of detail about Data Science and how it affects AI”.

After lunch, Mohamed Ahmed from Benevolent AI- a start-up in AI for drug discovery- talked about what his job entails, data, how machine learning is used to help absorb data, the fact that knowledge continues to change and evolve, and precision medicine. The group entered into a spirited debate about animal testing, and whether or not it should be used for the healthcare sector, and the main question ensued- is it wrong to test on and kill a hundred mice to potentially save a million humans? Teens “loved this talk” and found it “cool to see how AI could help in something other than digital”. One teen who is “very interested in going into medicine in the future” found it “interesting to find out how medicine may change completely with the help of AI.”, and gave [them] some interesting questions that improved [their] knowledge of this topic.”

Teams then regrouped and continued building their projects.

A few hours later, digital marketing expert Charlie Price joined to talk all about growth hacking and digital marketing, and how he uses LinkedIn as a useful tool. He also let us in on a few secrets to hacking the digital market, and some key tips on how to succeed at building your business. For example, Charlie talked about the importance of persistence and creativity. Participants felt that they “learnt something completely new about marketing” and found it “very applicable for what we are doing”.

Day four wrapped up with a talk from Unruly’s Hannah Mackaness. Hannah has been a mentor since the start of the Accelerator and had watched and helped guide a number of the teams throughout the process to date. Hannah spoke about how, in her eyes, the key to success, and the way to help us navigate the complex world we live in, is through the powerful combination of boldness and vulnerability. She described this being like acrobats holding hands on the trapeze, where in locking hands at the wrist, there arises a particularly powerful grip. Hannah described how she once believed life to be a “constant upwards linear progression”, but found through life experience, that in fact it’s anything but. Life is complex and the peculiar combination of boldness and vulnerability has been a key element of her experience. Boldness means, ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get- so ask’. Vulnerability means humility, not taking things for granted, and staying grounded. Hannah’s main recurring message, deriving from this fusion, was the words “hmm maybe yes”, a mantra she discovered during her time studying at Korea University, symbolising the unknown, and possibility. With the use of this phrase, overwhelming tasks and goals become much smaller and more manageable. People found her talk “inspirational” and “engaging and it gave helpful information in a short space of time”.

Originally published at Acorn Aspirations.



Acorn Aspirations

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