About the Importance of Role Models
by Vittoria Elena Morini
Yesterday, while I was coming back from work, reading The Evening Standard, I was pleasantly surprised by a piece of news, which made me reflect on the significance and importance of role models. The article stated that “a nine-year-old girl invented a cane with ultrasonic sensors to help blind people.” The little girl named Mihika decided she wanted to help visually impaired people after she witnessed the experience of a blind woman stumbling in front of her.
Mihika had then been shortlisted for the young pioneer award, which recognises children using tech to make the world a better place. She won it and created the first Smart Stick prototype with students at UCL, my alma mater. The design has built-in ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles, a water sensor to detect puddles, Bluetooth connection providing audio warnings, a remote to help locate the stick if the owner loses it and a camera with artificial intelligence. This just makes one appreciate the level of design thinking and empathy with the users that went into creating the product.
Reading about this little girl I felt inspired. Inspired to do good, inspired to achieve important goals; but most importantly to inspire others. To be successful, you have to use each day as an opportunity to improve, to be better, to get a little bit closer to your goals. It might sound like a lot of work, but the best part is, the more you accomplish, the more you will want to do, the higher you will want to reach. So as long as you have the hunger for success, you will always have the power within you to achieve it.
Even today, as Kriti and I were reading through our mails, we felt the importance of the work we, as a team at AI for Good, are accomplishing, thanks to the words of a young woman who kept thanking us. She had been using rAInbow — one of our products — a chatbot designed to reach millions who are in an abusive, controlling or unhealthy relationship. Through conversation and storytelling, it aims to support women experiencing domestic violence and is accessible on your cellphone’s Facebook Messenger application. The young woman stated:
“Hi rAInbow team! I am deeply moved by your initiative and wanted to express it — though I am lucky enough to no longer need a solution like that, I can appreciate the importance of being able to address such difficult issues and get help. It’s just such a beautiful project. Thank you for creating it! As I find Rainbow particularly important to me, I’d love to get involved and volunteer. I received the help I needed when I needed it, and this could be a tiny step towards returning the favour — to help others in need. Thanks for your amazing work!”
Now, let me share with you two initial thoughts. First, how can you not feel moved and deeply touched by the power of these words? And second, how can you not be willing to do more, to continue to inspire others and help to reach adequate living conditions for most of them? Receiving a message like this one is empowering! The best feeling in the world is to see how your help has flourished, especially when you have never met the person your help was aimed at.
Has anyone ever inspired you to change your life in a significant way? Anyone who inspired you to change your life to become healthier, happier, or more fulfilled? If so, you understand the difference that positive inspiration can make in a person’s life. That is what we at AI for Good want to achieve.
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about role models like Mihika the thoughtful message we received about our rAInbow project or the ones we will receive in the future. General opinion often makes out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I do not see that. The world is not so black and white.
It seems to me that empathy is everywhere, and these two little examples really prove it. The problem is that often it is not particularly dignified or remarkable, but it is always there. When people are on the point of losing someone, as far as I know, none of their last words are messages of hate or revenge. They are messages of love.
If you look for it, you will be impressed by the good that is happening all around you. It is just because we humans tend to only remember the bad. This is why I feel that our work at AI for Good is enhancing (even though a bit) humanity. It has taught me to open my eyes a bit more to see our world from a different, and more positive, perspective.
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