The Soft Machine.

This is about woman’s role in the future development of Artificial Intelligence. I have included a comment form at the bottom of the page if you have any views on this Post.

When I started this blog I only had a rudimentary knowledge of Machine Intelligence. I learned about Neural Networks through G**gle and UTube and reading books and articles. One thing I thought would be good was, to attended a A.I. convention which would enable me to hear the latest news from the people that are in the front line of A.I. It would be a pointer to a future part of the Blog. So I looked down the list of meetings, expecting them to be full of spotty Geeks wearing ‘ Who watches the Watchmen ‘ T shirts, clothed in Parkas, clutching at a busted laptop – It was not quite so…

As I looked down the list, some of the web pages were glorious – all the little faces lit up when you moused over them – they had smooth moving happiness banners and nice photo’s. – just like you would expect from an AI developer – I felt quite dejected at how good they looked. Then I found a site whose pages looked about as good as Ebay did in 1996 – just like you would expect from an AI developer – I felt much better then – while looking down the list I saw that there was indeed some conferences that were set up by women and were actively encouraging women to attend.

It appears that there is a growing movement by women to encourage other women to get into the Data Science A.I. sector – which is good. Women are excellent communicators. Linguistically have the edge over men and have a propensity to be able to patiently arrange order out of chaos. These are ideal qualities for Data Science and A.I – order from chaos.

For your perusal – here is a nice website called Data Science Salon that helps promote women in Data Science and Machine learning – they hold conferences and have an informative blog too – Click Here for the Salon – opens in new Tab – I have no affiliation what so ever with the Salon – just looks interesting..

Now just before you turn the page and say no, this is not for me – I can do Computers but, you know… Let us just take a very brief look at some women who were important pioneers in computing and software processes…

Ada Lovelace

Traditionally women have had a pivotal role in the early development of computer science. From the time of Ada Lovelace who saw the potential of Babbage’s difference engine and published the first computer algorithm – One that could use the Babbage engine to compute Bernoulli numbers. ( Amazingly I had no idea that Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron.. )

Next I would like to celebrate the work of the women who helped Turing break the Enigma code at Bletchley park – Together they saved many lives by bringing an early end to the war.

In the early days of computing, women, were traditionally employed as clerks and typists, so they were chosen to operate the new ‘fangled’ computers and helped develop the programs. Computer programming and data analysis was originally viewed typically as ‘office work’ . That was until it was realised that this could be a rather lucrative profession, where the women were eventually replaced by men.

Grace Hopper

These a just a few notable women computer pioneers I would like to mention – namely – Grace Hopper who was a pioneer computer scientist, best known for creating COBOL – the first computing language. A language that was not only used up until fairly recently but formed the basis of many subsequent languages. COBOL is a favorite of Bishops as it is the second language he learned – the first not being ‘Human’.

Margaret Hamilton

And finally, a resounding mention for Margaret Hamilton ( Another of Bishop’s favorites) who developed the software systems at MIT / NASA to put the first Men on the Moon. Which is no mean feat considering the responsibility that your coding would involve and the limitations of the memory of the 1960’s computers – you probably have more computer memory in your ‘smart’ phone than the entire Apollo space mission had in their rocket.

The role of Women in A.I.

Finally, we get to the point of this article… We can see that Machine Learning and A.I. is currently taking a big slice and growing role in our present day life. Hopefully you have looked over my article on this very topic ; Its on the ‘About’ tab. There I simply illustrated some of the advantages of Machine Learning – However there is a downside too:

Take a look at the ‘Slaughterbot’ video on the Video page to see what I mean. Currently the military is spending billions in the development of Autonomous weapons – Robots that walk like dogs, that can outrun a ‘human’ and are fitted with automatic machine guns – these robots will soon be totally autonomous – run by A.I. algorithms – armed and ready to kill. Tanks and drones that can drive, fly and shoot without the need for human intervention. Just think ‘Terminator’ and we are nearly there.

Of course security for the citizen is important, this is understood – but when you think that all Data Telecommunications – including this web page, is being filtered through security services servers – the amount of data going in and out of the supercomputers is staggering – much to much for the ‘Humans’ to deal with so it is being filtered by A.I. Algorithms – any questionable material will be ‘acknowledged’ and ‘dealt with’. With each second of every day, the A.I. is learning, learning – learning.

In fact A.I. is currently being used to develop the next generation of A.I. and when asked what the first gen A.I. was actually developing in the next gen of A.I. the scientist said – ‘I have absolutely no idea what it is doing…’

Now, I do not wish to sound stereotypical but could we say that it is mainly Men, who are developing A.I. weaponry – maybe. Could we also say that A.I. is like a child – a child that can only learn what it is taught – if it is taught to do harm, it will do harm – we cannot blame the A.I. for following its teacher.

Women make up at least half the population, it is now time for women to step up and teach the Artificial Machines that there is something more to life than bringing harm. Women can contribute to the future by offering a caring and nurturing side to the Intelligence of machines. A subtle sense of morality and decency, more than which is currently being offered to the collective Robot Mind.

Women Techmakers
Women Techmakers

If you are interested in getting more involved, I am a a member of Women Techmakers – A group of like minded women who encourage others to join in with tech stuff – you can investigate more or join in with the group by Clicking Here.

To end I will leave with a quote from the Data Science Salon Blog which you can read for yourself if you Click Here:

‘Careers in data science are soaring. By 2020, the number of positions for data and analytics talent in the United States will increase by 364,000 openings, to a total of 2,720,000 ‘- So – are you ready to take on the challenge ?


  • Picture of Ada Lovelace Public Domain Henry Phillips Hosted on Wikipedia
  • Picture of Grace Hopper comes from Wikipedia with the following attribution:
  • This image, which was originally posted to Flickr, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 4 June 2012, 18:21 by Jan Arkesteijn. On that date, it was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the license indicated.
  • Picture of Margaret Hamilton – by Daphne Weld Nichols, Photographer –
  • The Terminator robot image is hosted by
  • The ‘Soft Machine’ borrowed from the title of a book by William S. Burroughs.
  • Women Techmakers logo property of Women Techmakers.

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