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8 Women Geniuses Who Are Changing the Way the World Thinks

8 Women Geniuses Who Are Changing the Way the World Thinks

By Danica Lo

These eight women are changing the way the world thinks.

Today, Wired announced its first-ever "Next List"—a short list of 20 "unsung geniuses" featured in the magazine's May issue who are pointing "toward a new way of thinking about new ways of thinking," according to EIC Scott Dadich. "The Next List is a collection of people from across the business landscape who are changing the way we live, work, play, and think."

The eight women on the list are:

Megan Smith, chief technology officer, U.S. government: "Her team advises the President on significant tech topics like patent reform, privacy issues, and Net neutrality, as well as the regulatory reform that will allow entrepreneurs with good ideas to advance them more quickly." (She's a MAKER!)

Tracy Chou, software engineer, Pinterest: "Two years ago, she took the simple but provocative step of uploading a spreadsheet—to the code-sharing platform Github, naturally—that companies could use to make public the number of female engineers in their ranks. The goal: to identify the scope of the problem as a first step toward making a stronger commitment to address it."

Cindy Holland, VP of original content, Netflix: "I think we’re just scratching the surface on the notion of what an original series can be," Holland tells Wired. "Now, the creative teams working on series for us are asking us to allow them to experiment with the types of storytelling and chapter length. We’re encouraging them to be as adventurous as they dream to be."

Yoky Matsuoka, VP of technology and analytics, Twitter: An AI expert and polymath who studied computer science, electrical engineering, neuroscience, robotics, and mechanical engineering. "In 2009, while she was director of the Neurobiotics Laboratory at the University of Washington, Google tapped Matsuoka to help build Google X, its experimental lab…. Now Matsuoka is ready for her next challenge. In March she left Nest and made plans to join Twitter."

Lucy Peng, CEO, Ant Financial: "[Ant Financial] now includes a money-market fund, a peer-to-peer lending service, and a microloan program for online entrepreneurs…. And the company is developing Sesame, which will assign credit scores based on Alibaba customer data, thus potentially making it easier for millions of consumers to get loans—and, from there, to start small businesses, many of which will likely set up shop on Alibaba’s platform."

Tina Nova, senior vice president of oncology, Illumina: Nova's company is building a library of "circulating tumor DNA" to enable the roll out of liquid biopsy tests. "It’s a test that can detect tumor DNA circulating in the blood. I think it’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen since I started my career. A tissue biopsy has always had its limits—it’s painful, and sometimes when a doctor takes a sample, they miss the spot where the cancer is. Our hope is that we’ll soon be able to use blood samples to detect cancer earlier than ever before."

Lucy Koh, U.S. District Court judge for the North District of California: "Koh’s rulings on cases relating to patent infringement, privacy, and wage conspiracy don’t just influence the big-name firms that test the boundaries of the law. They affect every one of those firms’ users, which explains why Koh has garnered so much attention for her decisions."

Regina Dugan, head of advanced technology and projects, Google: "So far [Dugan's group] has revealed Project Ara, a modular phone that snaps together like Legos, and Project Tango, a tablet that uses a battery of sensors to build 3-D maps of wherever you are, much like a personal version of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover. It was just spun out of ATAP—a big step toward becoming a full-fledged Google product—and could be used by developers to create a whole new breed of augmented-reality applications."

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