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“We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology.” With Tyler Gallagher & Kristina Libby

We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology. Decrying technology as good or bad is removing the control mechanism (i.e. humans) from the system. Humans are critical to safeguarding our own future. It’s up to us; so we must be curious, informed, and ask questions that will drive the conversation forward. I had […]

We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology. Decrying technology as good or bad is removing the control mechanism (i.e. humans) from the system. Humans are critical to safeguarding our own future. It’s up to us; so we must be curious, informed, and ask questions that will drive the conversation forward.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristina Libby, Executive Vice President of Future Science and Research at Hypergiant.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path?

AI is the technology that will substantially change our planet over the next many years; it will impact all industries and rethink how we work, where we live and how we live. There has been a lot of backlash in the technology industry over the past decade around the fact that it hasn’t been designed by everyone but is for everyone. These limitations actually hinder how technology can be used. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen with AI, and I wanted to be in the room, to share different opinions and offer different perspectives to ensure that there were more diverse perspectives. This ensures that we design solutions that are representative of more people and work in many other ways.

However, I didn’t pursue a career in AI. My academic focus was in International Security. From there, I worked in government, ran my own social media company, ran consumer PR for Microsoft, ran another company that built technology, worked in cybersecurity, and now work for Hypergiant — which is now the fastest growing AI company in the US. During that time, I have also taught at leading academic institutions and am currently teaching at NYU.

I got into AI because I believed that it was an important place to be, that more women needed to be involved, and because the whole thing is just simply fun. This is bleeding edge technology that will have a significant impact on our future. My mind gets to think and create new things every day, particularly here at Hypergiant. My current job is focused on solving the world’s biggest problems with the world’s best technology, and it’s my dream job.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

You are who you make yourself into. Do not let the limitations of others limit what you believe you are capable of. Chase the future, and figure out how you can impact it. And, never stop believing in what is possible — you just need to think a little bit bigger.

Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

Hypergiant is exploring so many things that are massively interesting: we are building interplanetary internet (a critical component necessary for interspace travel and colonization) and have a soon to be released product that will change the way we think about approaching climate change solutions. On top of that, we are building helmets for astronauts and military that present an incredibly more tactical view and awareness of a person’s surroundings. Beyond that I get to drive research about topics that range from the commercialization of space to the next great bio proteins and fuels. It’s never-ending and it’s always interesting.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have this wonderful friend, Dona Sarkar, who works at Microsoft. She’s a fashion designer, an author and a senior technology leader. I used to say “I’m not technical” because I don’t code for a living, and my advanced degree is not in a traditional science. She would laugh at me and say “You talk about tech more than anyone I know; you know technology philosophy; you can explain weird cybersecurity stuff. You are technical. Everyone is technical. Technology is everywhere.” It took me a while to realize I didn’t have to code to be technical — although, Dona is still trying to get me into code school, just for fun!

What are the 5 things that most excites you about the AI industry? Why?

  1. The pace of change — we are constantly seeing new inventions and developments.
  2. The potential impact on futuristic technology like space travel — I’d love to go to Mars. Sign me up!
  3. The correlations between AI and Neuroscience — human minds are incredibly complex and AI is nowhere near being able to compete with the mind of a three year old in terms of creativity and innovation. There is so much to learn from biology that we can apply to AI, but no one truly understands the brain yet. So, we will have to evolve together.
  4. The correlations between AI and politics — AI in the US is not state-driven. It’s driven by corporate agenda. What this means is that we will have advances in AI that belong to transnational companies. This is an issue that starts to confront how we think about nation-state technology and political systems. This will require more government and technology industry engagement which should hopefully make both better.
  5. The unknown — We know a lot but we also know nothing. There is so much for us to learn as we move forward in the field and that constantly keeps my curiosity alive.

What are the 5 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?

  1. The pace of change — we are constantly seeing new inventions and developments but that pace of change means that there is very little regulation and oversight. I’m concerned about the rapid transformation that will underlay so much of humanity, and there is still a lack of public conversation.
  2. The potential impact on futuristic technology — AI will dictate so many things in the world, but we aren’t talking about it yet. We must engage in these conversations so that we can create the things that will benefit the most people in the biggest way.
  3. The correlations between AI & Neuroscience — We don’t understand our own brains fully yet, so how can we build AI that mimics them? We need more integration between biologists, neuroscientists and technologists.
  4. The correlations between AI & Politics — AI will have huge ramifications on our political systems and yet, no one is talking about that. We need that conversation in order to ensure we safeguard our political institutions.
  5. The Unknown — We have some guesses about where we are going but few people see or have insight into the whole picture. We need to develop, grow and scale but we also need to make sure we are doing it in a way that puts humanity first.

As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?

Humans are dangerous but also good and capable. AI is only as dangerous as the people that create it.

What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?

We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology. Decrying technology as good or bad is removing the control mechanism (i.e. humans) from the system. Humans are critical to safeguarding our own future. It’s up to us; so we must be curious, informed, and ask questions that will drive the conversation forward.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I’m a huge advocate of the New York Public Library, and a supporter. I will be until I die. I think we can teach ourselves anything and that books are our single best resource for education. I love that my involvement in the Library changes the lives of children and adults.

As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the AI space to thrive?

  • Believe you belong there.
  • Share your thoughts, opinions and ideas.
  • Be the best educated person in the room; you don’t need the top degree, but just be curious, have a lot of interests, and bring them all to the table.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?

The biggest pipeline problem is awareness. We need more women in science, but particularly AI. We need more women portrayed in television shows, books, movies, comic books — everything. That’s how you fix the pipeline problem: telling our stories helps inspire others. But, telling our stories in a cool way through pop-culture, is really what shifts the paradigm.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

“Think Bigger” — I say it all the time. The bigger we think, the more that is possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love people to understand their own resilience. We can be broken and put back together. Our broken places can become our strongest features. If we believed more in our power to heal and to grow and to take on big problems, then we could actually heal, grow and take on big problems.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

twitter.com/KristinaLibby

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