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Paving the Way for Ethical Technology

By Mike Olsen –

Since our very first exam in 2013, Proctorio has been able to create a platform that has helped expand access to education worldwide. The growth and reach we have achieved is humbling, yet we recognize our responsibility to improve the experience of those affected by AI technology and leave a more impactful legacy.

Access to equal education has always been at the core of Proctorio, and to get there we need to remain committed to the pursuit of ethical artificial intelligence. We want to rewrite the narrative of unethical AI, especially at a time where you see those two letters (AI) nearly everywhere you look. When our face-detection model bias audit came back in 2021 and found Proctorio had no measurable bias we could have easily thrown our hands in the air and declared victory. Instead we see this as a milestone, something that is good, but not finished. As an organization we need to continue to invest, innovate and push our industry to do better.

Last October, after a long project in collaboration with our partners at Babl AI, we closed a job posting for the role: Director of AI Ethics. This new position is dedicated to ethically improving AI algorithms and related activities here at Proctorio. After months of external applicants and interviews, we realized we didn’t actually need to look so far. In the end Melissa Dewees, our (former) Chief of Staff, was appointed as the Director of AI Ethics. We believe she is the perfect person to pave the way for the future of AI ethics and benefit the entire industry reliant on these technologies.

We are honored to have Melissa in this new role and have full confidence in her ability to make a positive impact on ethical development of AI algorithms here at Proctorio.

By Melissa DeWees –

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity as Director of AI Ethics. Proctorio has grown tremendously in the past four years I have been employed here. We have had our ups and downs, but we always pictured the future full of innovative technology and accommodating people in new and various ways.

My path to this new position has not been a straightforward one, but the journey to get here taught me many important lessons. What we do is important, as well as how it affects people and their lives. If you had told me 10 years ago I would be in this position, I would have thought you were crazy. I always pictured myself working in a museum or maybe in the medical field. This was especially true when I was attending college. I always was the quiet observer in the background.

In my educational studies, I started out in the science field but eventually worked my way to the social sciences. I chose Anthropology because I have always been fascinated by history and how people and civilizations evolved. I spent quite a bit of time pouring over textbooks and learning how societies developed and the issues that plagued them. It is interesting to realize while we have come a long way in some aspects, we still have a lot of growing to do in others. This is true not only for our company but in the technology field itself.

To know I am part of a company that uses and develops technology that impacts many people's lives and gives them opportunities they may not have had is a great feeling. Do I think we are perfect and need no refinements? No. I believe there are areas in which we can improve. This is true regarding our artificial intelligence models. It is important to me that ethics be implemented in every aspect of our company and product. This includes the development and deployment of our AI models. I believe every person should have the same experience from beginning to end.

This position is a way for me to no longer be the quiet observer but instead the speaker for people who may not have a voice. It is a way to make a difference, especially in the tech field, but also in matters related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. I am excited to get started and share things we are working on with you.

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