Karolina Drobotowicz.jpg


Project Researcher, Aalto University

Currently, I am researching the topic of trustworthy AI services in the public sector at Aalto University (Espoo, Finland). My previous professional experience combines engineering and design projects, such as User Research or R&D. Education-wise, I achieved BEng in Robotics and MSc in Human-Computer Interaction. The topic of AI was always close to my heart, though in the last few years I switched the focus from engineering to the societal impact of AI. More personally, I have been involved in many women empowerment organizations, for example, I was the board member of Women@EIT (European Institute of Innovation & Technology).

Tell us about your first encounter with artificial intelligence (AI)?

I heard about it in high school from an ex-student of our IT teacher, who went to Scotland to study AI. I remembered that I was really excited about such a possibility. I think at that time I was also reading polish sci-fi books that got me interested in AI


What is your competence within the field of AI? 

From the academic knowledge background, it is quite vast, I studied AI from various perspectives. From a practical standpoint, I was involved in a few small AI development projects. Right now I am developing my competence in Human-AI interaction, AI fairness and citizen agency in shaping AI.


Why did you develop an interest in AI? 

Since I remember, I was really interested in how different electronics appliances work. I was also inspired by some sci-fi books. That made me start programming quite early in my life. Then the Robotics studies followed, where I naturally studied AI. At that point, I was attracted by the fact that many AI approaches are inspired by nature - eg. by how our brain works.

Now I chose to continue my research in the AI topics because I see how important it becomes in our world - and how big of an impact it can have on society. I aim to bring more ethical approaches to AI development.


Can you recommend a relevant book or film about AI? 

Not exactly about AI, but about the “AI food”, data, I’d recommend books Invisible Women and Data Feminism. If someone wants to learn about AI, then I’d recommend the Elements of AI free online course :).

To get us thinking about where AI and Robotics can go and whether we want it or not, I’d recommend several Black Mirror episodes, the movie Her and maybe the Westworld.


Why should we, or should we not, be afraid of AI? 

Right now AI is only a tool, it is not a separate being. It can be used for societal benefit, or for malicious reasons. Therefore, if we are to be afraid, then only of the people who stand behind the AI. On the other hand, even with good intentions, the current AI can cause harm if we are not following the ethical processes. We always should think about the possible impact of new AI developments, especially about the impact on the most vulnerable groups.


Which field, in your opinion, has the most to benefit from AI – and why? 

I think the answer depends on one's values and interests, the quick one would be that every field :). As from my perspective, I hope for further developments in healthcare AI. I do hope it can also help us in solving some most urgent planet problems. Finally, coming from my area, I do see that - if made ethically - it can bring huge benefits in the public sector.


How should the use of AI develop in the future?

I hope for more direct and easy interactions between AI and humans, for which we need the development of explainable AI methods. For people to interact with AI agents, they need to trust them, for which we need more basic education of society and transparency of AI services. Finally, I wish it would be developed to create fairness, rather than copying the existing biases in the world.


Why should participants tune in during AI+? 

I will bring the voice of citizens to the table: namely, what are their attitudes and requirements for the AI in the public sector so that they can start trusting it. I believe it will be beneficial for all of you who are involved in shaping the AI services, so you know how to make those services trustworthy! 

Karolina Drobotowicz is a speaker at the AI+ virtual conference 2021.