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Benna Ammanath

Executive Director, Global Deloitte AI Institute - Deloitte Consulting LLP - US

We are the women in AI—the women who are at the forefront of transformation. We look at challenges from a different angle, drive innovation with impact, and are passionate about AI that champions diversity and fairness. We are the women in AI—but we represent only 26% of data and AI positions in the workforce1. There should be more of us. If you are in AI today, let us help you grow. If not, come and join us.

She’s leading the way to trustworthy AI

If you want to see a vision for what good artificial intelligence can do, ask Beena Ammanath. She has been studying and working with data and AI her entire career, and she sees how this powerful technology can solve tough problems—provided it can be trusted.

“AI can be used to solve some of the biggest challenges humanity is facing today,” she says. “Whether it is tackling climate change, improving human lives, addressing inequity, and solving global health challenges, AI can be an accelerator to bring technology to the masses and solve it at scale.”

Beena is a technologist, as well as an award-winning executive leader. She joined Deloitte in 2019 as the executive director of the Global Deloitte AI Institute. She also leads Deloitte’s work on Trustworthy AI and Ethical Tech. A respected business leader in large enterprises, Beena started her career as a computer scientist.

Today, the power and use of AI is transforming business in almost every sector. The potential is enormous, but Beena cautions that for AI to reach its greatest potential and benefit humanity, it must be worthy of our trust.

“It is something that keeps me up at night,” she says. “I think about the ethical implications—how do you ensure trust in the AI solutions that we're building? AI needs to be safe, transparent, unbiased and have a host of other ethical qualities. There remains much to do in moving AI forward, and we are really only just getting started when it comes to addressing ethics and trust.”

Beena believes the work she is doing with the AI Institute gives her the opportunity to tell a more complete story of AI, and one component is the need to bring greater diversity into the AI ecosystem.

“Women still tend to be the largest minority group that's missing within AI design and development,” says Beena. “We need all perspectives and backgrounds at the table to inform the decisions we make with AI. If we are leaving 50 percent of our intellectual capital out of the AI life cycle, we are depriving our work of vital input that is needed for AI to contribute the most good in the world.”

Fortunately, as Beena says, technology itself can be a vehicle for drawing broader, more diverse participation in the field of AI. It can be used to entice students into fields with a nexus to AI, it can draw brilliant minds from across industry and it can be a great equalizer in accessing opportunities to making truly world-changing contributions. This is one reason Beena founded Humans for AI, a registered 501(c)(3)b nonprofit dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in AI.

What advice does Beena offer to those curious about how they can contribute to AI?

“Be curious and keep learning. AI is an evolving field. There's space—and need—for everyone!”

1World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2020


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