Interview With Lindsey Allen: The Rise Of AI And What It Will Mean For Us

The technology industry has been male-dominated for a long time – in 2016, an AnitaB.org survey of 60 of the largest companies in the U.S. found that women held roughly 21 percent of technical jobs. But these statistics are changing as more and more females are looking at a future in tech.

We had a talk with Lindsey Allen who has worked at Microsoft for over 20 years and is currently Partner Group Program Manager for SQL Server 2016 and SQL Server core engine, as well as being the lead architect and manager of the Azure Data Customer Advisory Team, about what changes she’s seen in the tech industry and what we can expect to see technology-wise in the coming years…

During your career what surprising changes have you observed in the technology industry?

“Change is constant in the technology industry which I like. In the past few years things have definitely sped up – you don’t need to read a book to learn anymore, there are new products being made every day. The only way to keep up is to jump in and do it.”

How do you think technology will change in the next 5 years?

“The biggest change has already happened – AI. I have a PHD in Artificial Intelligence, when I started out people didn’t really care but these days someone with AI research on their CV is pretty much guaranteed a job. AI is a part of everyday life and it’s adapting to people’s needs. Blockchain technology is also on the way, we’ll be seeing more blockchain tech beyond just crypto currency.”

Do you feel as though the technology industry is male dominated?

“In technology yeah, it is mostly men especially in the US. At Microsoft we’re being very proactive in recruiting more women – we go to colleges to do talks. At entry level we actually have more women than men.

I guess the thing is when women get married and have babies a lot of them don’t come back [to their job]. I know when I had my daughter there wasn’t on-set childhood care so I had to take a lot of time off – luckily now there is childhood care at Microsoft, but I know a lot of work places don’t have this which can be a challenge.”

At M2woman we’ve been talking a lot about the importance of pay equity, is it an important issue for you?

“It is important to me, it’s important that women should get more opportunities to drive riskier projects. I see organisations willing to take more risks with men than with women.”

What advice would you give to other women in the technology industry?

“Be confident. Generally when women make mistakes they feel more like they need to withdraw from projects. If you make a mistake learn from it, carry on and be confident.”

Will robots take our jobs?

“I don’t think these machines can gain consciousness. AI will make everybody’s lives a lot better. It’s all just part of industrial revolution.”

Can you tell me a bit about IOT connected hospitals and cars you worked on?

“In hospitals every med and pill can be traced back to a raw material. There’s a lot more data bring generated nowadays. Now your car can tell you if you have an appointment, it can tell you how much traffic there is in your area and where to find parking. It’s the same with hospitals – hospital beds are very specialised and maintenance is actually quite expensive. IOT connected hospitals can make all of this easier, they can tell the technicians exactly what pieces are needed and just streamline everything.”