Gaby Slezák has been sharing her expertise in remote teamwork for more than 15 years, advising companies on new technologies for learning and collaboration.
Having pioneered the new media landscape in Germany when the Web was in its infancy, Gaby is a certified communication skills trainer with a psychology background and a master’s degree in Digital Learning Technologies. She believes that we need more women in tech and especially in AI. She says half of the world’s population is not participating equally in research and development of technologies that will have an impact on all of us.
“We need more diversity to reflect humanity in all future decisions – ethical and technological," she says. “Learning in the digital age has become more and more an online affair. Top universities all over the globe offer online classes and you can get full-fledged master’s degrees [online] nowadays. AI can play an important role because tutoring thousands of learners is impossible."
Gaby notes that "machine learning is being used to improve adaptive learning and smart chatbots,will play the role of an all-knowing virtual tutor, available 24/7 and multilingual. And you want the AI behind the scenes to reflect the whole population in all its diversity.” She envisions AI teaching millions of learners simultaneously in private, individualized courses thanks to AI's capabilities.
When she explains her profession to non-technical colleagues, Gaby tells them she helps build digital assistants who can listen and talk like Siri and Alexa, but who know everything there is to know about specific topics, such as flowers, animals or rain.
Digital assistants are better teachers than humans in some regards, she contends, because they can tolerate the physical and emotional stresses created by relentless human curiosity. In other words, unlike a human professor, digital assistants can answer questions patiently all day and all night. That level of intense curiosity is what initially exposed Gaby to technology. She says she read more than 400 science fiction novels before she turned 20 years old.
“That might have been a clue where my career would take me in the end,” she jokes. “I always live in the future, waiting for the present to catch up.”
Part of living in the future for Gaby is helping the next generation of women start careers in technology. She suggests young women connect with other women in the field. She also wants her female colleagues to make themselves heard and to be visible.
“Don’t say, ‘They didn’t let me,’” she advises. “If you want something, you have to do the work. Don’t wait to be ‘discovered.’ Believe in yourself and be sure — you will make mistakes. Everybody does. But men know, it’s not the end of the world! Don’t take it personal! Try again. Where there’s fear, that’s your way.”