Uploaded and Encoded

Martha smiling outdoors in a lemon dress. (Provided by Martha Mwangi)

Martha Mwangi

Martha smiling outdoors in a lemon dress. (Provided by Martha Mwangi)

Everyday, students browse countless websites in search of new information and entertainment. Many students unknowingly agree to their data being stolen, often leading to serious repercussions. Martha Mwangi,a senior at Lambert High School, is combating data injustice. As an officer of the Encode Justice club, Martha is aware of the dangers tied to artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is a field of work that combines computer science and data to teach AI how to problem solve. AI researchers input data into the AI to process through various analytic tests.

 These tests help the AI learn new patterns shown in the samples. The issue with this process is that there is a “Black Box” where the AI is learning by itself and researchers cannot determine its process. There is a great possibility that there was a small mistake along the way that resulted in a bias, and researchers cannot determine the source due to the “Black Box.”

Encode Justice is an organization that educates people about AI and AI’s inherent bias. Martha was introduced to Encode Justice through her friend who loved the club and wanted her to join. Martha was intrigued by Encode Justice as it merged her two passions: computer science and social justice. 

“I was just like sure why not?” Martha said. “Those are two things I like separately, [so] why not combine them?”

Martha started out as the Director of Education and met with Encode Justice members during her first year. She was initially nervous, but grew to love Encode Justice and what it stands  for. This summer Martha is traveling to California to meet the Tech Policy Center staff, where she can learn about training AI. 

After being in Encode Justice, her outlook on data inscriptions has changed drastically.

“I used to be that person, who just pressed ‘accept all’ on the cookies page,” Martha stated. “But now I make sure that my cookies are good, clearing them out if it’s not what I want.” 

As Martha heads off to college she wants to major in computer science and minor in public or science policy. She plans on attending either Georgia Tech or Vanderbilt to continue her passions of both computer science and social justice.