Kay Firth-Butterfield

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The Daily Texan: UT Austin senior research fellow awarded Time100 Impact Award

Kay is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Texas and was interviewed about her Time 100 Impact Award by the Daily Texas, newspaper of UT Austin.

Daily Texas

A UT Austin senior research fellow won the prestigious TIME100 Impact Award on Feb. 11 for her work in AI governance. 

UT Austin Senior Research Fellow Kay Firth-Butterfield was awarded Time 100 Impact award for her work in AI Governance

Kay Firth-Butterfield was one of four recipients of the 2024 TIME100 Impact Award. The award is an extension of TIME100 Most Influential People and recognizes world leaders who have significantly impacted their respective fields, according to the TIME100 website. 

See also: TIME100 Impact Award: Kay Is Shaping Responsible AI Governance

“Part of me feels that I am just representative of a whole lot of us who have been doing this work,” Firth-Butterfield said. 

Firth-Butterfield started as a barrister in the United Kingdom before she moved to Texas and began teaching at St. Edward’s University. She said her interest in AI started in 2011 when she came across a TIME magazine article on “the singularity,” a hypothetical future where technological growth becomes uncontrollable. 

“That got me thinking,” she said. “What would humanity look like if we were interacting on a daily basis with something as powerful as this machine?”

Firth-Butterfield said her career shifted in 2014 when she ended up on the same flight as the CEO of an AI company who worried about the technology he was creating. 

“We got talking, and as I got off the plane he offered me a job to set up an ethics advisory panel to help him navigate … the AI that his business was creating,” she said. “I became the world’s first AI ethics officer.”

Firth-Butterfield co-founded the Responsible AI Institute and is the former inaugural Head of AI at the World Economic Forum. She taught an AI course at UT Law and participated in several research projects that used AI, like the Earth Species Project.

In her experience with AI technology, Firth-Butterfield said we need to be aware of biases. 

“There is a paucity of data from women and persons of color,” she said. “What we know about the people who use ChatGPT is that they are mainly white men based in America.”

She is currently the CEO of Good Tech Advisory and advises companies on how to responsibly implement the latest AI technology. 

“The best AI is the AI that helps you do your job better,” she said.

By Melanie Faz - This article was originally published at https://thedailytexan.com/2024/02/28/ut-senior-research-fellow-awarded-time100-impact-award/