Nisha’s love of technology has been at the epicenter of her world for as long as she can remember. Moving from Sri Lanka to Africa just at the age of 7, Nisha relied upon two subjects, math and English, to let her mind explore the creative caverns of what could be with technology. From dreaming of building her own Small Wonder style V.I.C.I. at an early age, to her Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley, she’s created a lifelong affinity with learning. 

This educational endeavor led her to various positions with leading forces in the software and hardware spaces, from a Sun Microsystems engineer, to being the Lead Architect and Fellow at SanDisk. Everywhere in between these bouts, Nisha remained exceedingly passionate about her own work, becoming a Co-Founder of three StartUps before Pyxed and AI Club, a frequent Forbes contributor, as well as being the owner of 73 patents. Yes, 73 patents, ranging from: distributed systems, networking, storage, performance, key-value stores, persistent memory and memory hierarchy optimization.

AI Club & Pyxeda 

This love of learning has transcended from the personal to being the key elements in Nisha’s most recent work. For the last 7 years, Nisha has founded both Pyxeda and AI Club. AI Club, an EdTech based Startup, roots its work on the idea that “AI literacy is a core skill for the future.” With this, Nisha and the team help guide learners in grades 4-12 into building their own AI-based systems. Nisha even made clear that every student builds their own AI “within the first 30 minutes of learning.” While this may seem like a stretch, Nisha points out that AI is not a thing of the future, but rather all around us. Kids interact with Automated vehicles and voice-activated assistants routinely, so the jump into making their own is not as far fetched as one may assume initially. 

What types of AI’s are kids building exactly? In May of this year, a group of students (the MDS team) created “an iPhone app that businesses and individuals can use to measure the CO2 levels around them, understand the difference between safe and unsafe levels, take steps to improve CO2 levels, and track their improvements.” They used AI to read sensors they were unable to join with BlueTooth, as well as coding an app and establishing a database with over 40,000 data points of CO2 readings. This project was done by not just a group of students, but by middle school students. (Impressed? We were too!)

However, this is just one example of the dozens of outstanding projects students in AI Club are achieving. From programs that can detect mood based on your natural language, to medical detectors improving CT Scans, AI Club is proving the barrier to entry for experience with technology is not as high as some typically perceive. 

Nisha’s Work on Drift

It’s an interesting time to be teaching and working on AI solutions, especially with the pandemic and its effect on regulated predictive outcomes most algorithms were reliant upon. Nisha’s efforts outside of AI Club have been revolving around accounting for, as she calls it, “drift” in predictive algorithms. Using MLOps, Nisha has helped businesses build drift detectors to make sure the AI are operating in a space it is meant to be operating in.

Closing 

Nisha remains absolutely rooted to the ground, even with her many successes. She attributes nearly all praise to the teams she’s created, as well as the foundational principles that helped her grow. “Innovative solutions for innovative problem solving,” is what she believes in and wakes up to accomplish everyday.


About the Metabob Podcast series: 

This new, weekly series will take a deep dive into the tech ecosystem, putting real people and explanations behind some of the common household ideas and misconceptions about the tech industry.

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Guest(s) Featured in this Episode
  • ● Nisha Talagala, StartUp Founder & CEO
  • Episode Resources