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Tech Tales - Women's Edition
RadhaChitta

Radha Chitta

Research Scientist, Kira Systems

Where were you born? Provide any interesting personal background you feel shapes your story.

I grew up in Bangalore India, a growing metropolitan city in the midst of a conservative country. Girls' education wasn't a very popular idea in the country at the time. Even today women pursuing higher education and high profile careers is very rare in India. So I consider myself very lucky that my family was more progressive and believed in gender equality. My parents supported me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Unfortunately for them though, my ambitions seemed limitless and were constantly developing, which didn’t make their life easy. I was determined to prove myself, achieve what nobody else in my family had achieved, and excel in life. Today, I am the first and the only doctorate in my large extended family settled happily outside India. My dreams are still growing and there is more to accomplish.

I believe AI allows us humans to collectively realize our true potential by not having to worry about the routine mundane tasks. Each time I make a contribution to the world of AI, I believe I help in getting us closer to this goal.

Describe your current job.

I am a research scientist, which means I come up with creative and innovative ideas for improving Kira, using machine learning. I design and develop new machine learning algorithms which can help solve the problems that the clients face and add new features to our product.

How or why did you get started doing this?

My entry into Machine Learning research was almost natural. During my undergrad, we had to do one team project. I had teamed up with a couple of people who were also interested in doing something innovative, and we had just learnt about neural networks. We designed a web application to automatically match web users based on their search history so that they can chat with each other and collaboratively find what they were looking for. This project was rated among the top ten in an AI challenge held by Microsoft that year.

I was mesmerized by Machine Learning and its potential applications. There was no looking back after that. I pursued Masters specializing in AI and later PhD in Machine learning, and became a machine learning researcher.

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

The best part of my work is brainstorming. When I come across a problem, there may be a multitude of possible solutions. Reasoning out which of them will work best, coming up with something completely new if none of them will suffice, are the really exciting parts of my work.

I believe AI allows us humans to collectively realize our true potential by not having to worry about the routine mundane tasks. Each time I make a contribution to the world of AI, I believe I help in getting us closer to this goal.

Describe a moment you are proudest of in your career.

There have been many proud moments in my career. I was thrilled when I received my PhD degree, and felt great every time I discussed my work to my peers and the discussions led to brilliant innovations. But my proudest moment so far has been when I was working as an intern in a company called Edmodo, which developed a learning management system using AI. Their software essentially allows teachers and students to communicate with each other outside the classroom environment making learning easy for the students. Towards the end of my internship, the company had invited some teachers who were using the product to come by and tell us what they liked/disliked about the product. It was an amazing feeling when a teacher said that she found a feature in the product that came out of my work very helpful. I was thrilled to know that I was actually making a difference in people's lives, however small it might be.