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Women Leading The AI Industry: “The best decisions I took in retrospect were often the most ridiculed” with Tripty Arya and Tyler Gallagher

I think women would benefit from exposure to the industry in general. We have gone to clients where often there are many men in the room as senior management and representing the tech department. However, in operations you see a lot more women. When the company involves all the different departments and lets them engage […]


I think women would benefit from exposure to the industry in general. We have gone to clients where often there are many men in the room as senior management and representing the tech department. However, in operations you see a lot more women. When the company involves all the different departments and lets them engage in the adoption of AI, it gives these women exposure. I currently work with many women from our clients’ organisations and they are as quick as the boys in picking up the concept and working through action items. I think it’s just a matter of exposure.


As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tripty Arya, the founder of Travtus, where she is leading R&D for the application of Artificial Intelligence in the real estate industry. The company has built an AI avatar called ADAM which utilizes the research to help automate property management for landlords. Tripty has been an industry veteran in real estate previously, developing buildings and running a construction company.


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?

I was trained as an Architect, that is, a “building architect”. So the decision to enter the world of real estate was a simple transition. I started my career in New York, but moved around the globe to be my own boss. I started Travtus in 2008 in Mumbai as a construction company and then developed a few residential buildings there. I then moved to Singapore to expand the company and continued to run Travtus as a construction company. However, the growth of Travtus was not “scale”. And I wanted Travtus to scale into a global real estate operator. But given my experience, it was clear that the industry is not very scalable due to its dependency on human experience and the loss of knowledge in documents and memory. In 2017, I took a decision to stop doing construction and focused on solving the problem for scalability. The only solution that made sense was to mimic the human field experience using Artificial Intelligence. A decade after starting Travtus, we again became a startup and changed direction to focus on building our IP for creating AI solutions for Property Operations.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

I would not preach any lessons so early in my career. But the one thing I have learnt from my own career is not to have fear of the unknown. The best decisions I took in retrospection were often the most ridiculed. Starting your own company at 22 was not a norm. Moving a flourishing company to Singapore and starting from scratch was also such a moment. But if something makes sense to you, it’s probably worth pursuing. Usually with blinders on, because people will always consider you to be either insane or stupid. Chances are that your experiences are different and that’s why your path is different.

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

ADAM. That’s the only project I am working on right now. I absolutely love what we do. Building a scalable AI driven anthropomorphic machine is the coolest and most valuable project I have ever worked on. And the team that builds Adam is just inspirational. I am in awe of my team.

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?

There are many people in my life who have helped guide our journey. The two most important have been Philip Eisenberg and my father Vasu Arya. Both have been mentors who taught me to look at a problem objectively and use my logic and not just follow a norm. They both taught me about real estate &construction at an age when I was most impressionable. I credit them for a lot of my journey so far. I use something called the “Philip Rule”. In my second interaction with Philip I went to him with renovationquotes which were very varied. I was unsure on how to judge something with such variance. He said tome then, “ There is only so much you can put into 500 square foot. Figure out what that is and then afterthat it’s the difference between a plastic toilet seat and a golden one”. I have used this rule in differentvariations for a decade now.

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

The first thing that is most exciting is the speed at which the AI industry is evolving. Every day there is progress in research papers or open source development which is progressing the industry. The challenge is to keep up with it.

The second is the ability to use AI to free humans to be more humane. We have been training humans to be robots for so long that sometimes we forget our most human qualities of empathy and good. With the advent of AI, these qualities have a lot more value in the world. The third most exciting thing is the debate that it brings and the fear or excitement generated by it makes us question the world as we know it. The other two exciting things I would say is a focus on R&D again which was lost and the applications it can have in industries like healthcare.

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

The largest concern for anything in AI has to do with bias. The training of data needs it to be trained without bias and with inclusion. In the example of Adam, we need to ensure that any data being trained is trained by people who have excellent domain knowledge and would be considered “best in class”. The minute the quality of the training, which is a very human job, reduces, you are reinforcing very bad models in AI. Ironically, this means that the role of the human in AI is more crucial than it ever was. I have heard stories of AI being used in immigration and recruiting and it does sometimes raise a flag of biases of racism and judgement which we have tried to hard to remove from our tribal human tendencies. I don’t think any other concern is as critical as this concern for bias.

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?

I think there is definite truth in the ability of AI to pose dangers. Most technology does. When nuclear fission was developed, it could have been applied to generation of power or the creation of weapons. And it ended up being used for both. I think it’s important that AI is encouraged and democratized in order to not leave in the hands of a minority.

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?

It also needs our understanding of morality and ethics as humans to be more evolved. We are currently being educated in skills and not in thought. We need to educate our next generation differently in order to work and live in a world where data and models are their tools and not adversaries. I personally see a return to the classical form of teaching where philosophy and debates take the same position as science and math.

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

I would not call myself successful. There is a lot that still needs to be done. I just hope that with Adam we are able to bring the actual workers in the field more merit for their job and lose less to agency relationships that only exist due to inefficiency.

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?

I think the first step to bringing more women into any industry requires men to start treating them as equals. I am very fortunate to have men in my life who encouraged free thought and made me believe that I was the rule and not an exception. It’s only when I started working in the real world that I realized that I came from a place where I did not need to convince everyone of my abilities. I would also encourage everyone, not just women, to feel less insecure just because you are different. Our desire to be liked is a very human trait. And if we don’t get confirmations of that around us, it makes us insecure. It’s important to surround yourself with people who appreciate you and then make that your world. Lastly, I think women need to be exposed to new things. Most engineering colleges have few women and design school are often full of them. This is often because girls find their talents early on and are biased towards certain activities. In order to break our biases from our upbringing, women need to challenge themselves as adults. Adult education and learning after the formal education system is very critical for this.

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

I think women would benefit from exposure to the industry in general. We have gone to clients where often there are many men in the room as senior management and representing the tech department. However, in operations you see a lot more women. When the company involves all the different departments and lets them engage in the adoption of AI, it gives these women exposure. I currently work with many women from our clients’ organisations and they are as quick as the boys in picking up the concept and working through action items. I think it’s just a matter of exposure.

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

My favorite quote is “ If your dream doesn’t scare you, it is not big enough”. Its relevance is critical to our constant reinvention at Travtus.

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 not take any credit for being an influencer. After all, my Instagram profile is private!

But if there was a movement that I would want to trigger, it would be to remove bias. Not just from data but from human thought too. Bias causes discrimination, fascism, racism and other barriers to acceptance of people. Any movement that brings out the best versions of us would be wonderful.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am best found on LinkedIn or twitter at @triptyarya

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