Juliette Powell

In a world where machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are seemingly necessary to stay ahead, how can businesses and institutions ensure they are utilizing these tools ethically and responsibly?

“It’s important to think about creative friction – the idea of bringing in different kinds of voices,” says Juliette Powell, co-founder and managing partner of AI consultancy Kleiner Powell International and co-author of the new book “The AI Dilemma: 7 Principles for Responsible Technology” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, August 2023).

“People differ more than in their sex, gender or race – they also have different kinds of education, neurodiversity, cultures and views of the world. All of these are important to reducing risk when it comes to making decisions about AI, both in its development and its deployment.”

Powell is a renowned consultant at the intersection of responsible technology and business to organizations including Microsoft, Nokia, Warner Brothers, Reuters, IBM, the World Bank Group, l’Union des Banques Suisses, the International Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Finance, Research in Motion, The Red Cross, Cirque du Soleil and BlackBaud. She helps leaders address the accelerating change underway due to AI-enabled technological innovation, shifting social dynamics and heightened global competition, revealing strategies that fuel better decision making and increased profitability. Energetic and encouraging, she brings deep insights into the responsible deployment of AI, ethical data exploration and the ripple effects of unconscious biases on generative AI.

As Powell succinctly puts it, “If you’re optimistic about people, you can be optimistic about tech.” Through her research, speeches and workshops, she ensures that optimism is grounded in a deep understanding of both the opportunities and the risks of our increasingly automated world.

Tackling the AI Dilemma: The Calculus of Intentional Risk

Having partnered with organizations such as Intel Labs and the United Nations on global strategy and scenarios around AI, data, banking, mobile, retail and social gaming, Powell is distinguished by her ability to identify the patterns and practices of successful business leaders who bank on ethical AI and data. In “The AI Dilemma,” Powell, with co-author Art Kleiner, presents seven principles and four logics of power to regulate machine learning. Using a wealth of real-world examples, she emphasizes that we are moving toward a moment of self-awareness accelerated by AI, and leaders need to be more aware than ever of potential risks, mishaps and misuses. Her clear guidance brings decision makers confidence that the algorithms they develop will support human flourishing.

As an AI practitioner herself, Powell offers leaders practical insight into the “calculus of intentional risk” that leaders use to guide their decisions. She explores this concept thoroughly, using both a visceral perspective of tabulating risk-reward, and a granular approach to risk assessment, similar to actuaries at an insurance company. Catering to diverse audiences, from C-suite executives to AI developers, Powell introduces a reliable system anyone can employ to be sure their organization is taking the right risks at the right time. This helps businesses stay safe while being sure they won’t miss out on the latest wave of technology.

Powell’s work and the principles outlined in “The AI Dilemma” serve as an important guide in today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape. She champions the belief that as we lean into an AI-driven future, we must foster creative friction and diverse perspectives, ensure rigorous risk assessment, and prioritize digital literacy. As we confront the biases and mishaps of AI, Powell argues that it is also time to seize the unprecedented opportunities and benefits AI systems can provide.

“I’ve always been into responsible technology, and leaders are the ones who have the drive, desire and power to implement it,” elaborates Powell. “It matters that we develop technology so it serves all of us – not just some of us. And corporations are the entities around the world who can make it happen, so let’s make it happen together.”