Memory, like identity, can be a slippery thing. Vivienne Ming, now one of America’s most celebrated speakers on artificial intelligence (AI), remembers herself as a girl growing up in Monterey, California, a ruggedly beautiful beach town on the state’s central coast. "I think back to high school and I see myself walking around in a summer dress. And then I think: that never happened. I wasn’t that person." Before Ming was who she is now — a tall blonde who can hold a Tedx Talk audience rapt as she discusses using deep neural networks to overcome corporate diversity issues — she was Evan Smith, a maths whizz and star kicker for the high school football team, who was secretly uncomfortable in his own skin. "I feel like I had a brother I lost touch with, or perhaps who passed away," she says, as we sit for an early Sunday lunch at Jean-Georges in London’s Connaught Hotel, sipping fizzy water while the summer sun pours in through the large windows. "I have a lot of sympathy for that per...

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