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  • Writer's pictureBella Callaway

Get to Know THEMIS 5.0: Bella Callaway

Quote from Bella Callaway Interview

The diverse group of partners working together on THEMIS 5.0 is a part of what makes this project so important. 'Get to Know THEMIS 5.0' is a campaign designed to communicate the core values and aims of the project, through the lens of the unique stories and experiences of the people who make THEMIS possible. By hearing their stories, we hope that readers can understand the importance of improving trust in AI not just for themselves, but for citizens across the world.

What is your name, where do you work, and what is your role in THEMIS 5.0?


Bella Callaway, I work for 21c, 21c is leading WP6 which focuses on Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation. I am part of the team working to communicate the THEMIS project not only to the European AI community but also to European citizens, professionals, and policy makers. Our aim is to raise awareness of the project and its vision, to improve trustworthiness of AI systems. Additionally, we aim to engage potential end users in the THEMIS ecosystem.


Why is the THEMIS 5.0 project important to you?


In a time where many citizens are sceptical about the widespread adoption of AI technologies, increased transparency and better explainability of AI systems using the THEMIS ecosystem will not only improve trustworthiness for professionals but also for the beneficiaries of AI decisions, helping them to better understand the AI’s role in their lives.


Have there been any situations (work or personal) where you have had concerns about bias or fairness in an AI system or outcome?


Something I have thought about is accessibility of AI systems. For people who have a disability there are often no allowances that enable them to access technology. For example, if someone has a speech impediment their question of command may not be picked up by a virtual assistant, such as an Alexa, as easily as someone with clear diction.


In your opinion, what are the key challenges to enhancing trustworthiness in AI systems?


For me, the most significant challenge to improving AI trust is bias due to its potential to perpetuate unfairness, leading to discrimination within AI systems. If the problem of bias in data sets used to train systems is not addressed, social inequalities and archaic attitudes which society is working hard to eliminate will be reinforced and exacerbated. The technology provided by AI has the opportunity to improve the lives of all citizens across the globe and for me, it is important that is accessible to all as this will encourage ethical use, transparency, and ultimately trust. I saw that recently UNESCO found in their investigation into bias against women and girls in large language models, that gender bias and stereotypes were reinforced and lead to gender-based decision making. Whilst positive bias is essential, it is important to find a balance where discrimination is discouraged.  


How do you stay updated on the latest advancements and practices in AI?


The internet – these days AI seems to be very prevalent in the news so often I keep up with major developments and breakthroughs just by reading that. There are also a few good podcasts that talk about the benefits and pitfalls of AI. I find it useful to listen to someone explaining concepts I can’t quite grasp! The best podcasts I’ve found are ‘Everyday AI’ and ‘Deep Mind: The Podcast’.


If you could use AI to do something in your everyday life (which it doesn’t already do!) what would it be?


If I could use an AI to do anything it would be meal plan for me. If I had an AI powered assistant that could assess the ingredients in the fridge and then develop recipes and shopping lists that were delicious and nutritious, cooking meals would be more time efficient and healthy!

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