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Kush Varshney named 2024 IBM Fellow

Varshney co-founded the Science for Social Good initiative at IBM in 2016

Kush Varshney appointed IBM fellow for AI Governance / Image-LinkedIn

IBM has appointed Indian American researcher Kush Varshney as a 2024 IBM fellow, the company's most prestigious technical distinction. 

As an IBM fellow for AI Governance, Kush will focus on new approaches to mitigating harm and safely governing large language models, as well as their incorporation into the watsonx platform and other AI-infused products, the firm said in a statement.

Varshney, who is a researcher at IBM Research, responded to the appointment in a LinkedIn post. "This is a very big deal professionally, considering that there have only been 335 IBM Fellows named since the program was started 61 years ago and in that time, several million people have gone through employment at the corporation... It is hard to believe that I got here by sticking to my values, taking a conscientious effortful approach, and honoring my roots."
 



Varshney co-founded the Science for Social Good initiative at IBM in 2016. It employs data science in collaboration with social enterprises to tackle issues of poverty, inequality, health, and hunger. Additionally, he published groundbreaking articles and the first book on the subject of safe, trustworthy, and socially responsible AI and machine learning.

“My early IBM projects were related to human capital management and healthcare, and they were revealing because it became clear that accurate predictions aren’t enough. These systems have consequences on people’s lives, so there must be consideration for fairness, and our models need to be understandable. This is true not just for social enterprises, but for all of IBM’s clients as we develop models that everyone can have confidence in,” he said.

Varshney spearheaded the creation of the open-source AI Fairness360, AI Explainability360, and Uncertainty Quantification 360 toolkits in this same vein. In addition to developing factsheets for transparency in the AI development lifecycle, he came up with algorithms to reduce bias. Through the use of watsonx.governance, these are assisting IBM clients in various sectors in making their systems more trustworthy.

Born in Syracuse, New York in 1982, Varshney received a B.S. degree (magna cum laude) in electrical and computer engineering with honors from Cornell University and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he was appointed a National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellow.
 

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