In this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, we talk with Dr. Ayesha Khanna, co-founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence solutions firm and incubator. Forbes named her one of southeast Asia’s groundbreaking female entrepreneurs. Her bio is too extensive to encapsulate in a brief introduction, but she brings both depth and vision to all she does. She has been a strategic advisor on artificial intelligence, smart cities and fin-tech to leading corporations and governments around the globe.
She is also the Founder of 21C GIRLS, a charity that delivers free coding and artificial intelligence classes to girls in Singapore and finds time to be an advisor to the startups Octa (a chatbot for young travelers) and Arro (a delivery robot for sports).
In this wide-ranging conversation, Khanna talks about the purpose of Artificial Intelligence (AI), harnessing the creativity in the rapidly-expanding middle class in Asia flowing into cities, Mobility-as-a-Service, and what Smart Cities or even Smart Nations are and how they could be made a reality.
Changing the Narrative
The purpose of AI, says Khanna, is to amplify human potential. But the pace in which it is moving means the displacement of a lot of human labor, especially blue-collar labor, but it’s starting to take over white collar jobs as well. So part of her work in AI, said Khanna, is changing the narrative from what is it doing to me? To my job? To my career? To: how can I make it work for me? To make my quality of life happier?
Instead of being disturbed, paralyzed or hiding from AI, she said, this shift in thinking allows people to go after AI. “We then seek out to upscale ourselves and find opportunity,” she said. She’s seen over and over again in the companies that are her clients, she sees the people who embrace AI despite their fears rise in the ranks of their companies.
“For every routine job that is automated, or every new insight that data and machine learning is giving me,” she said, “it is amplifying my own potential to do something more value added. In fact, it is putting me in a more strategic role in my firm.”
In third world countries, five people enter the middle class in developing countries every second, she said. They’re moving into cities. That means tremendous resources as these people are excited and looking to upscale.
The big question, she said, is how do we democratize their access to technology? There’s so much
“I don’t know why people think poor people are not creative. They’re very creative! They just need access and to learn the tools to channel that creativity,” said Khanna. And we have the opportunity to do just that.
Listen in to hear her talk about what they do in the ADDO AI incubator, why Smart Cities are the wave of the future, her advice to engineers and developers, and so much more.
In this Edition:
5:10: Can you talk a bit about what ADDO AI does?
7:32: What happens in the incubator?
11:42: Are you planning on coming up with a product at the end of each one of these incubator projects?
16:08: Bias in AI
17:41: What technology do you use to enable your team to work on AI, the data fabrics, and all of that?
23:16: What is a smart nation, and how is it different from a smart city?