Lots of people advocate for an open internet, but Katharina Borchert is in a unique position to help make it a reality. As the leader of Mozilla’s open AI projects, she oversaw the release last February of a data set of voice recordings from more than 42,000 contributors in 18 languages. (It’s since more than doubled.) Known as Common Voice, it allows developers to create voice-recognition tools from a variety of speakers, training AI not to get tripped up by women or non-native speakers (a common problem).
Fast Company: How has Common Voice influenced your views about accessibility?
Katharina Borchert: It drove us to think not just about the diversity that we want represented in our innovation but how we can preserve the cultural diversity that this world holds. In a [time] when everything has become centralized and we all use the same platforms, English has become the lingua franca of the internet. I’m often concerned that cultural richness and diversity might get lost….