May 21, 2020 Teaching Machines Through Our Stories – Women In History Ideation Challenge

Bringing Cultural Intelligence to AI

Each of us brings a unique lens to the world, and for future AI products and solutions to be truly personalized and relevant to us, we must be present in these data sets. Imagine a world where future chatbots, smart speakers, and other AI-powered interfaces have the historic context to interact meaningfully and share stories about your family and heritage. Whether it’s through data sets or new algorithms we create, we can teach machines who we are through our stories.

Cultural intelligence in AI is a nascent field. IVOW AI aims to bring cultural and historic awareness into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, data science, and machine learning (ML). Topcoder is excited to be working with the IVOW team on a Women in History Dataset ideation challenge. 

The challenge launched on July 2, 2020 and can be found here.


The goal of the ideation is to get public data sources of profiles of women throughout history and modern times and suggest how that data could be used to gain new insights for AI products and solutions with a focus on women. The primary focus is to get a well thought-out overview of what is possible, what relevant data can be found and where, and how the data should be collected. 

Many of these stories might exist in the form of texts in the original language, oral histories, paper archives, or unstructured Wikipedia entries. How can the digital transformation of these stories into AI-suitable datasets represent an important step in helping future machines become aware of global cultures? How does one story around one cultural history have a pattern that might relate to sustainable cities now? 


IVOW stands for Intelligent Voices of Wisdom, and through their partnership with Topcoder, IVOW is bringing these questions to a global stage. Our diverse community of technologists and data scientists will bring their breadth of perspectives to the challenge. From a technology development standpoint, making AI and data culturally relevant is imperative as we develop technology that is usable, engaging, and beneficial to the human experience. Sourcing ideas from Topcoder’s global community fits perfectly with this critical mission. 

Phase 1 of the Women in History Dataset ideation challenge is taking place this summer, and IVOW is currently raising funds for Phase 2. The second phase of the challenge will tap the Topcoder community to develop an algorithm that will create a profile of stories for women in history. 


According to a January 2020 Forrester Research study, the future of brands and how brands engage with people will be individualization. Social listening and emotional intelligence are popular topics in AI, but true, successful individualization must include cultural preferences. IVOW’s work is more relevant than ever as we push beyond hyper-personalization to individualization.

“To meet customer expectations of rich, relevant experiences, digital business professionals must help their firms evolve their personalization strategy from segmentation to individualization.”  – Forrester Research Study

The Women in History Dataset ideation challenge has the potential to fuel the emerging field of culture tech, and create lasting social impact. Building a more sustainable future by preserving our cultural heritage, both physical and intangible, is key. As an example, one of the United Nations sustainable development goals is Sustainable Cities, and preserving cultural heritage while innovating is part of that vision.

Three months after the completion of each phase, iVOW plans to share the datasets and algorithms open source to fuel innovation for the greater good. The outputs to come from these Topcoder challenges will be posted publicly on AI Commons, which aims to build the future Wikipedia of data.

“Data will be biased until it isn’t. I have to do this for the next generation, and all of the ways they are going to engage with AI.” – Davar Ardalan, IVOW AI


Cultural Intelligence is just as important as emotional intelligence for AI to become a beneficial, non-biased agent in our lives. We’re proud to be part of this pioneering effort with IVOW.

If you are interested in learning more about this project and sponsorship opportunities please reach out to IVOW AI Founder and CEO, Davar Ardalan via email:

Connect with Sina, IVOW’s Facebook Messenger chatbot. Sina loves global culture, and offers a glimpse of what a more culturally intelligent AI interface might be.

Alexa Baray

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