Nandan Sudarsanam (Left) and Rajagopalan Srinivasan (Right) at the American Express DART Lab, which was inaugurated recently.
TheNFAPost Podcast

Chennai, NFAPost: The American Express Data Analytics, Risk and Technology (DART) Laboratory was inaugurated at Indian Institute of Technology Madras on September 3, 2020.

The lab will establish itself as a world-class hub of research in risk analytics and behavioural sciences by
leveraging Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (ML/AI) and related technologies. The lab would focus on risks that originate from human behaviour and decisions.

The overarching goal of the lab is to engineer technologies to best manage risk by developing a science-based understanding of humans’ strengths and weaknesses. It will also build talent for industry by partnering with academia.

The establishment of the lab has been undertaken through a grant by American Express to promote talent and diversity in Technology. American Express has also instituted annual scholarships for economically-disadvantaged and meritorious students, including ‘Ambition Awards’ for deserving women students at IIT Madras.

American Express Banking Corp., India, Senior Vice President and CEO Manoj Adlakha said, “Everything we do at American Express – our products, our service, our technology, our people, our innovations – is all about providing the powerful backing and support to help people thrive.”

“With a global footprint and diverse customer base, we believe we have a responsibility to support the communities in which our customers and colleagues live, work and care about. We are proud to partner with the country’s premier academic institution to invest in the future of cutting-edge data science and analytics research. We are also thrilled to announce Ambition scholarships and awards for meritorious women students that underlines our focus on fostering diverse talent,” he added.

Earlier this year, American Express commissioned a global survey in partnership with The New York
Women’s Foundation to explore and understand the relationship of university-educated working women with ‘Ambition’. The survey found that Indian women’s commitment to achieving professional and personal ambitions ranked the highest – with 89% of university-educated women in India believing it is important to have ambitions, and 70% proud to call themselves “ambitious.”

American Express EVP and Chief Credit Officer Bharathram Thothadri said, “At American Express, we have a rich history of using data and analytics to build customer relationships and bring value to customers and partners. Equally, we are invested in finding and developing the right talent to drive greater innovation in this field.”

“Our collaboration with IIT Madras reiterates our commitment to support and invest in interventions for public good in the country. The technologies and applied sciences R&D in the Lab will be beneficial for creating an overall societal impact through advancement in financial services, healthcare and safety standards. The American Express Awards will identify and reward female talent in the field of engineering and technology as well as budding talent in data science,” he added.

The lab at IIT Madras will explore a range of verticals with key emphasis on manufacturing, finance,
healthcare, operations management and smart cities. The DART lab seeks to become a leader in the risk
and behavioural sciences eco-system. Most real-world systems ranging from aviation, finance,
manufacturing, public health, and smart cities, rely on sophisticated automation; but people play a
critical role in operating, monitoring, and managing them.

IIT Madras Director Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi said, “IIT Madras is delighted to receive this generous grant from American Express for setting up the Data Analytics, Risk and Technology Laboratory, and for creating several scholarships and awards for women in Science, Engineering and Technology.”

“The DART Lab will focus on bringing data analytics to bear on problems arising due to the interplay of human factors and inherent risk or uncertainty in the work environment due to unknown or partial information. The scholarships and awards will encourage our women students to excel in STEM and pursue enriching careers at the post-graduate level. We look forward to continued support from American Express for growing these efforts in the coming years,” he added.

The research at DART lab will focus on the human dimension – developing a science-based understanding of humans’ strengths and weaknesses in various contexts. The research at DART will develop technologies to measure the cognition and attention of the decision-makers and prevent potential accidents in high-risk industries.

The same technologies can be applied across dimensions such as employee engagement and attentions, evaluating and enhancing quality of education and learning in school, especially in online classes as being administrated during the pandemic where teachers are unable to read the body-language of students. The research from the lab including findings, research, algorithms and tools will be publicly available to be used for government collaborations and education advancements.

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