You know that feeling when you walk away from a conversation with someone awesome — and you think, “Wow, that girl is going places”? Meet Brontë Johnson, a high school student forging her STEM path in the incredible world of artificial intelligence (AI).
Artificial intelligence is a vast, complicated and exciting area that includes countless technological advances. From Siri to self-driving cars to computerized doctors, AI is truly incredible. And as a future AI Developer, Brontë is ready to be at the forefront of this eye-opening industry.
You plan to pursue computer science and eventually become an AI Developer — which is awesome. When did you first become interested in this field?
Believe it or not, I first got interested in artificial intelligence and AI development when I watched the movie iRobot. I was four years old at the time and I didn’t comprehend much of it, but I did manage to understand the underlying concept of the movie.
While some people may have interpreted the movie in a negative connotation, I saw it in a different way. I saw the potential technological advances humanity can make — just a glimpse of the potential we have! While we don’t want to take it to the extent of robots taking over the world, we can work with AI to improve our lives as a whole. From minuscule tasks and handiwork, to extremely large and costly space expeditions, AI can help in many ways.
As a high school student, how have you already put some of your long-term career plans into motion?
As a high schooler, I have been doing whatever I can to strengthen my foundation of code. To first create AI, you’ve got to code — so learning languages helps a lot. I’ve also been looking at colleges that have strong CS programs, where I can better my learning of software and its development. I’m also working closely with teachers at my school who teach code, and even have gotten myself in a program through Microsoft.
Bronte (center) and friends working on STEM projects.
For those who aren’t as educated about artificial intelligence, can you explain how it’s “the future?”
With each passing day, we dive deeper and deeper into the world of technology. Its growth is inevitable, and it’s growing at a rate that’s unimaginable! You look around society today and what do you see? People on mobile devices, on iPads, on laptops and on cell phones. You watch the news and what do you hear? Cybersecurity hacks, systems shutting down, politicians getting in trouble for emails, viruses spreading, social media booming. At the rate we’re going at, it isn’t long until we update our software to the next level.
What’s the next level? Artificial Intelligence. Before we know it, cars will be driving themselves, phones will become less and less hands-on, wars will be fought digitally, system software will be self-driven. It’s already happening! AI will help everyone in the long run.
Who inspires you?
My biology teacher, Mr. Bommer, played a big part in getting me into AI! He’s always so enthusiastic and gushes on and on about software and computers. The things he talks about are thought-provoking and simply brilliant, really. He understands the workings and the ins and outs of huge platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Understanding platforms like these really play a part in AI because you’ll know what interests the target audience. You’ll know for what and for whom to program. Mr. Bommer’s an inspiration because I hope to have such an unwavering enthusiasm as his for technology when I grow up.
What — if any — challenges do you expect to face in college?
If I’m being realistic, I know that when I go to college, I’ll be faced with the challenge of being one of the few girls in the CS program. I know that not all schools have as large a gender gap as some schools, but many of them do. That would be my biggest problem — seeing not many girls interested in the field. Which is also why I love the 1,000 Dreams Fund, because they are motivating more girls to get into STEM and CS fields! Girl power! We can do it!
How do you share your passion for science and technology with the people around you?
I help my mom all the time with her computer troubles! Not just my mom, but my entire family. While it may not seem like much, I enjoy fixing whatever problem or bug that’s wreaking havoc on their computers! I also am in a lot of STEM classes, so I can better myself as a whole. Practice makes perfect!
What’s one phrase, word or piece of advice that motivates you and pushes you toward your dreams?
I follow this saying to the “T,” and I want to share it with all my fellow girls out there: “Just because we’ve got Artificial Intelligence, doesn’t mean we lose our Natural Intelligence! Question everything, think for yourself, and make your mark!”