A shift in perspective towards AI comprehension - Equitech alum now seeks the potential for impact in every emerging technology.

By Anodya Mishra 
Oct 17, 2023

Brazilian alum Caio Cedrola Rocha was looking for summer programs in the field of AI, mathematics and data science when he chanced upon the Equitech Scholars Program in 2022. The promise of a global community of like-minded individuals excited him about this opportunity. “I would have a network of people interested in data science and AI, and also meet people from around the world!” he exclaimed. 

Caio shares his insights on how his perspective on AI has changed after the Equitech program: “I think the Equitech Scholars Program changed the way I look at AI, because earlier I used to get excited learning about the new feats AI has achieved, but not about its impact. Now, I look for the impact in every aspect of AI progress.” Caio emphasizes the importance of prioritizing safety and ethics when contemplating AI solutions for societal challenges. 

“I started thinking about the ethics of AI because of the class activities during the Equitech Scholars program. We used to study AI applied in real world problems, and then have discussions if the AI was applied in the right way or the wrong way,” Caio says. 

A student of the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora in Brazil, Caio is pursuing his degree in Computational Engineering, while also interning at the university’s Center of Education Assessment. In his capacity as a Junior Data Analyst, he uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) to assess the reading fluency of children in Brazilian public schools. The work includes transcribing children’s audio to analyze them through different metrics - number of words read, number of words read correctly, and other aspects of speech like the pauses and intonation. Caio explains, “We are doing this research project for a company that does large scale fluency assessments. Though this was a manual process earlier, we are now making it automatic so that we can gain more detailed and nuanced information about the quality of teaching in public schools.” 

Further, Caio is also an alumnus of Enactus - a global non-profit network of young leaders aspiring to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress. It is here that he learned about social entrepreneurship and how it can be used to address important social challenges. Drawing on this newfound knowledge, he helped develop an app that promised to improve employability for immigrants and refugees in his city. 

Caio aspires to apply for a Masters or PhD in data science and AI to work on real world problems - specifically in the field of education. He says, “A quality education is the basis of a better society, and using tools like AI and data science helps us gain insights into some of the challenges learners are facing, so that we can come up with new strategies and solutions.” Caio’s advice for future Equitech Scholars mirrors many before him: “Enjoy the program,” he says, “Connect with people, and get to know about what they are working on! This is a great opportunity for meeting new people and forming strong bonds based on the similarity of your interests and the diversity of your belongings - don’t shy away from it.”

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