The Heroine’s Journey of Ruta Binkyte

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Continuous learning and new challenges that makes you constantly evolve. Also the connection between quite philosophical and very practical aspects that enable you to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

What is my idea of happiness?

Peaceful mind, healthy body and my loved ones around me.

What is my greatest fear?

Everything that can lead to loosing my family. Also loosing myself.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

The urge to control everything.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

I really admire Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, for not only being brilliant scientists, but also revolutionising the availability of education by founding the online learning platform Coursera. I also admire Cathy O’Neal, Joy Buolamwini for their passion and ability to communicate the complex topics of bias in AI in an approachable way.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I like to try something new once in a while, something I have never done before.

On what occasion would I lie?

I lie when I am afraid. I wish it would only refer to heroic situations, like saving someones life… Sometimes I get scared in more trivial situations as well.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

The thing I find most difficult in research is that sometimes, you are working all day, and yet you don’t see any results. It is important to learn to see how all the failures and seemingly wrong directions that you took add up to and enrich the final result.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

The field of AI Ethics is quite young, so at first I was alone working on this subject in my lab. What really transformed the experience of research for me is starting to work with a wonderful team of people with the same interests.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I think I am changing myself constantly in many ways to become a better and happier person. It just takes a lot of time and effort. If I had a chance to make a quick fix probably I would choose to get rid of the imposter syndrome and to be more patient

What is my greatest achievement in work?

I think so far it is just being able to do what I believe in and learning everyday.

Where would I most like to live?

I wish I could have that trade-off between the calmness of a countryside and vibrancy of a city. I like being close to center of science and arts, but I also need trees and green fields to make my mind rest.

What is my most treasured possession?

Vintage photo albums of my grand parents and their parents, also the photos of my children and beautiful moments with my family. The oil paintings that I got from my father. A few books. When I left my home country and moved to France, I realised that all that I cherish can be put in a box of a moderate size (except for the paintings, that I cannot fit in a small Parisian appartement ;).

What is my most marked characteristic?

Openness to learn.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

La Marais in Paris and Uzupis in Vilnius.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

Miznon and Jugaad in Paris, Armenian and Georgian cuisine in Vilnius.

What books influenced my life and how?

I used to read a lot, but probably the books that influenced me the most were the ones that I read in my childhood, like Alice in Wonderland and Never Ending Story. Those books taught me to look out for the miracles in life.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Time by the Pink Floyd.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Alice in Wonderland for surviving and making sense of a most chaotic and surreal environment. I think all of us some times feel like we have been thrown down the rabbit hole and need this little child inside of us, that is still able to distinguish that what really matters.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

The surgeon who saved the life of my son, and numerous other children that less experienced surgeons deemed inoperable. Apart from that she is amazing at reassuring the scared to death parents and taking full responsibility for the outcome. Also everyone who is fighting severe health conditions and those who help and care for them are the real life heroes to me.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?

The Big Lebowski, also all Hayao Miyazaki movies.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ mean to me?

We are absolutely the storytellers of our lives, and the story we are telling ourselves matters even more than the ones we are telling others. As for science, every discovery or idea cannot be implemented or appreciated by others without a comprehensible and inspiring narrative.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My husband. He is the one who always encourages me and engages in most interesting conversations.

Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2022?

I am very lucky to work with the people that I am currently working with, who are prominent in their field and also fun to talk to. I would also like to extend my academic experience by getting acquainted with industrial, governmental or NGO AI Ethics practices, such as AlgorithmWatch, Future Society, Algorithmic Justice League.

What project, in 2022, am I looking forward to work on?

I will continue my research in AI Ethics, I am also looking forward to work on educational and interdisciplinary projects that bring closer social sciences and engineering.

Where can you see me or my work in 2022?

Hopefully in some interesting workshop or conference, even better if in person!

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

I have the impression, that people who are very passionate about their work, do not really retire (if health allows). I know a lifetime entrepreneur, who woke up from coma caused by cardiac attack, immediately told a new business idea to his grandson and then died in another 15 minutes. He was 90.

How can you contact me? ruta.binkyte@gmail.com

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