Fiddler Labs CEO Krishna Gade revamps AI models for trust and transparency

We recently spoke with the CEOs of the companies that participated in the recent AWS Startup Showcase: The Next Big Things in AI, Security, and Life Sciences to find out what drives them and learn about their visions for the future. This feature is part of theCUBE’s ongoing CEO Startup Spotlight series.

Artificial intelligence is ubiquitous, but just as powerful as its benefits are the challenges it poses for data quality, accuracy, privacy, protection and bias. Many large companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, have recently been in the spotlight for unfair decisions resulting from their sophisticated but biased algorithms.

Also, a recent Gartner Inc. report said responsible AI as one of the four trends that should rule innovation in the near term due to the need to address these issues. Concerns about AI and its models have caught the attention of governments around the world, which are making regulations to ensure fairness and accountability.

Krishna Gade, founder and CEO of the startup Fiddler Labs Inc., stands out in this debate, as he runs a company created to solve the “AI black box” challenge: understand the inner workings of smart models to fix existing problems and avoid others. At the same time, he has participated in advisory groups that work with government officials to shape future AI regulations.

“Maybe two or three years ago people didn’t know what responsible AI or ethical AI meant or what it meant to create transparency in AI by holding companies to account.” , Gade said. “But now there’s a lot more awareness spreading; there are documentaries that have been made on coded biases or the social dilemma and also many documentaries that have shown some of the negative effects of AI systems and products not working very well.

The main complication is that as AI becomes more and more used, with a 40% annual growth outlook from 2021 to 2028, it’s hard for companies to keep track of what’s inside their myriad models and whether they’re performing well. Unlike regular software code, you can’t actually open AI models, read their models, and understand what they look like, leaving room for trouble, according to Gade.

Fiddler platform for explainability of the model, modern monitoring and bias detection are at the heart of the machine learning workflow and keep track of all parts of the models to give the business a centralized way to manage all this information in one place and keep track of all parts of the models. create the next generation of AI. It has a compliance and operations monitoring tool that tracks what is happening with models in production.

A direct understanding of pain points

Although Fiddler is only three years old, Krishna has worked in the tech industry and around data and models for over a decade, working as an engineer for search engines and recommendation platforms Bing, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Its main job has always been to process large data sets and try to extract information and ideas to help create user-friendly products.

Prior to founding Fiddler, Gade was CTO working on the Facebook news feed for almost two years. Gade has seen how difficult it can be for companies to understand their own machine learning models.

“As these systems became more and more mature and more and more complex, it was very difficult to understand how they worked,” he explained. “For example, you have questions like, ‘Why am I seeing this story in my thread? Why is this news going viral? Is this actually real news or fake news? All of these questions are very difficult to answer.

As Gade and his team built a platform to help answer these questions and increase the transparency of Facebook’s models, he defined the problem he would later solve with Fiddler.

“I felt like until that point there were a lot of AI solutions to help developers create AI as quickly and accurately as possible, but nothing was available on that. what happens when you deploy your AI in production, how much can you trust it, how can you get visibility, whether it’s how it affects your business or if it creates a bias potential and make decisions that could affect your users? ” he stated.

Allow algorithms to make the right decisions

More than making AI models explainable, Gade’s mission is to make them trustworthy. A book lover, he explained the importance of trust, citing “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari.

“He talks about two things that separate humans from other animals: number one is the ability to deal with ambiguity and number two is the ability to increase confidence in millions and millions of digits,” he said. -he declares. “If you put more than 100 gorillas there will probably be a fight; they can’t trust each other, when 100,000 humans can go to a soccer stadium and watch a soccer game… and, without any problem, millions of people can elect the president.

This trust must be extended to the machines which increasingly enter our lives and take over decisions. The idea is that people can trust the algorithms that will decide whether they can take a loan, make a purchase, or get an accurate medical diagnosis, for example.

“We have this inherent need to develop confidence in the machine. How does this machine work? Why is he making such decisions? Gade explained. “And until we close that trust gap, it will be a very, very difficult time for humans to rely on machines.”

The many recent cases of companies accused of unfair decisions due to their sophisticated algorithms give some idea of ​​the magnitude of the problem. Facebook deleted face recognition of its products, and Twitter has largely abandoned a image cropping algorithm because the systems were susceptible to bias. Having difficulty managing risk, Zillow decided to close Zillow Offers, which was responsible for the majority of the company’s revenue, due to an issue with the house price estimation algorithms.

Even with enough money and tech teams, these big tech companies couldn’t solve the problem to the satisfaction of customers or authorities. How will this be for companies outside of the tech realm that may not have the technical talent, time or resources to work on the problem?

“This is where we are at. We’re basically trying to create a generic platform so that we can work to help banks … insurance companies, healthcare companies, manufacturing companies, recruiting companies and many more that are not. facing problems, ”Gade said. “Certainly our background helps to have a solid foundation, but what also sets us apart is that we understood the pain points much earlier than maybe other companies. “

Everything points to accelerated growth

Like other startup executives, Gade found a business opportunity and seized it. And everything is very much in his favor. Concerns about the potential misuse or unintended consequences of AI have spurred government efforts to review and develop standards and policies.

Following his AI White Paper 2020, entitled “On Artificial Intelligence – A European Approach to Excellence and Trust”, the European Commission has launched a set of propose rules and actions, focused on trust and transparency, to transform Europe into a global hub for trustworthy AI.

Meanwhile, in the United States, things are also moving forward. Many official agencies study responsible AI policies, including Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and financial services authorities. As someone with knowledge of the deeper issues surrounding AI, Gade is making his contribution. He traveled to Washington, DC to meet with regulators and work with the nonprofit Innovation Center FinRegLab Inc. and other experts to develop research on how to use tools like Fiddler to create responsible AI in finance and to manage AI risks.

“AI regulations will become more and more mainstream, and I think they should be,” Gade said. “Some people are still not fully aware of it or want to wait and watch. They don’t want to worry until it becomes a problem for them, and that’s where regulation becomes really important.

The future of the fiddler

Encouraged by the opportunities ahead, Gade is optimistic about Fiddler’s growth. He hopes to triple the business over the next year, from customer base to revenue and the team.

“We are now a 52-person company. We went from three people in 2018 to 52 people in 2021, and this hypergrowth should continue, ”he said. “It’s definitely the greatest team I’ve ever managed. “

That’s not bad for a newbie entrepreneur who, not too long ago, couldn’t even imagine being in Silicon Valley.

“During my undergraduate studies in India, I admired technology leaders like the founder of Hotmail, which I read a book about, but starting a business wasn’t even something I didn’t have to do. no suction, ”Gade said. “It’s almost like a dream.”

Photo: Krishna Gade

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