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Several Indian Americans Named in ‘Time AI 100’ List of the World’s Most Influential People in Artificial Intelligence

Several Indian Americans Named in ‘Time AI 100’ List of the World’s Most Influential People in Artificial Intelligence

  • They include teenager Sneha Revanur, the youngest individual in the compilation, along with Humane Intelligence CEO and co-founder Rumman Chowdhury, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla’s son Neal, billionaire brothers Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani; and many others.

Several Indian Americans are among ‘Time AI 100,’ the magazine’s maiden list of people who work with this emerging technology and “make critical decisions on when and how to best use it,” according to the magazine. Eighteen-year-old Sneha Revanur is the youngest individual recognized on the list, along with venture capitalist Vinod Khosla’s son Neal Khosla, and billionaire brothers Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani, among others. 

“What is unique about AI is also what is most feared and celebrated — its ability to match some of our own skills, and then to go further, accomplishing what humans cannot,” the magazine says, explaining the reasons behind their latest compilation. While “AI’s capacity to model itself on human behavior has become its defining feature, yet behind every advance in machine learning and large language models are, in fact, people,” the magazine notes. Individuals selected by Time are divided into different categories.

Revanur is included in the  ‘shapers’ of AI category along with Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani, co-founders of Wadhwani AI, and British-Indian Sarah Chander, Senior Policy Advisor, European Digital Rights. 

As a college freshman earlier this year, Sneha Revanur began to notice that the term ChatGPT “just entered our daily vocabulary.” She felt that since Gen Z was quick to adopt generative AI tools, it only made sense that “they also have a say in regulating it,” she told Time. The 18-year-old founded Encode Justice, a youth-led, AI-focused civil-society group, “to mobilize younger generations in her home state of California against Proposition 25, a ballot measure that aimed to replace cash bail with a risk-based algorithm.” This summer she helped organize an open letter urging congressional leaders and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to include more young people on AI oversight and advisory boards. Soon after, she was invited to attend a roundtable discussion on AI hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris. “For the first time, young people were being treated as the critical stakeholders that we are when it comes to regulating AI and really understanding its impacts on society,” Revanur told Time. “We are the next generation of users, consumers, advocates, and developers, and we deserve a seat at the table.”

Also listed in the category is Tushita Gupta, 27, the CTO of Refiberd, the California-based company she co-founded with Sarika Bajaj in 2020. Their goal is to provide the most accurate summary of what types of materials are in any given textile item. Gupta is the brains behind the company’s AI technology. In January, Refiberd “raised over $3.4 million in seed funding, and it’s now actively undergoing a series of pilot projects in the U.S. and Europe. Though she’s worked in AI for several years, Gupta told Time it is “still all too rare to see women in technical—rather than operational—roles.” Three of four of the company’s full-time employees; its board is also all women. “It’s been pretty cool for us to be a woman-led company,” she told Time. “It’s really cool that we get to build … the culture that we want to build, and break the systems that exist today.”

In 2018, billionaire brothers Romesh and Sunil Wadhwani began to think about how they could harness AI to help solve global development challenges, especially in countries where people were living on less than $5 a day. To find out, Romesh and Sunil, who are founder and chairman of SAIGroup and founder of the WISH foundation respectively, “decided to team up, funneling $30 million to the creation of a nonprofit institute, Wadhwani AI,” Time said. “Today the Mumbai-based institute is one of the few that exclusively devotes its AI development to pioneering an ecosystem of scalable AI solutions in sectors like health care, education, and agriculture for underserved communities by partnering with governments in the Global South,” Time said. 

Sarah Chander, 32 is a senior policy adviser at Brussels-based European Digital Rights (EDRi), a network comprising over 50 NGOs and experts on digital rights and freedoms,. Before that, she focused on international law and antiracism advocacy. Now she advises the E.U. on improving policy and legislation relating to AI, privacy, and surveillance — “an issue that’s become more urgent in recent years as more governments deploy AI tools and infrastructure to surveil populations and control borders,” Time said.

Chosen in the innovators category is Neal Khosla, 30, CEO and co-founder of Curai Health, the AI-assisted telehealth startup established in 2017. According to Khosla, “AI is the special ingredient that keeps the whole thing running behind the scene,” essentially functioning as “an assistant for doctors, handling straightforward tasks to free up their time for more complex work.” The company is “growing quickly toward its goal of creating a world ‘where anybody can pull out their phone and get the best information that biomedicine has,’” Khosla said. So far, the startup has received “more than $50 million in funding from General Catalyst, Morningside Ventures, and Khosla Ventures, the firm founded by Khosla’s father, the billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla,” Time noted. 

Joining him is Manu Chopra, 27, CEO of Karya, a nonprofit that “not only pays its workers at least $5.00 per hour (around 20 times the Indian minimum wage) for their work, it pays them again every time a company licenses it to build a new AI,” according to Time. The idea for the nonprofit originated from seeing factories in the Global South, “where workers toil for low wages to teach autonomous vehicles how to drive or, increasingly, rate the reliability of chatbots,” Chopra told the magazine. Much of the work Karya does right now is collecting datasets of Indian languages that have so far been sidelined from the AI boom, which will then be used “toward building AI systems in those languages that work not just accurately, but also equitably,” Chopra told Time. He was born into poverty and won a scholarship to Stanford “that changed the course of his life,” he told Time.

The ‘thinkers’ section includes Rumman Chowdhury, CEO and co-founder, Humane Intelligence; Pushmeet Kohli, Vice President of Research, Google DeepMind; Arvind Narayanan and Sayash Kapoor, professor and doctoral candidate, Princeton University; Kalika Bali, principal researcher, Microsoft Research India; and Shakir Mohamed, research director, Google DeepMind & founder, Deep Learning Indaba. 

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Rumman Chowdhury, former head of  Twitter’s machine-learning ethics team is the founder of Humane Intelligence, a nonprofit that specializes in red teaming of AI systems. “The practice takes pointers from hacker culture, where prizes for identifying security flaws by stress-testing computer programs are commonplace,” Time explains.

U.K.-based Pushmeet Kohli leads both Google DeepMind’s AI for Science project and the Responsible and Reliable AI team. He spent nearly 11 years at Microsoft, where he was ultimately director of research in its Cognition Group, “which aimed to build AI systems that could carry out almost all of the types of tasks that humans can do,” Time said. He joined DeepMind in 2017 and soon set up the Safe and Reliable AI team. More recently, his AI for Science team announced AlphaTensor, an AI system that builds on AlphaZero. He told Time that “AI, by improving our understanding of the world, will ultimately solve more problems than it creates.”

When Kalika Bali of Bengaluru, India, told fellow technologists 25 years ago that “she wanted to work with the world’s most marginalized languages, they attempted to dissuade her by telling her she would only be marginalizing herself,” she told Time. “My whole thing was that people around me could not access technology.” So she ignored the career advice. “I stuck to it—and now I’m seriously optimistic.” At Microsoft Research, the big tech company’s R&D subsidiary, she is “working to ensure that the AI boom is inclusive of marginalized languages,” Times noted. “I think there should be a world where language is no longer a barrier to technology,” Bali told the magazine. “So everyone can use technology irrespective of the language they speak.”

In 2019, Arvind Narayanan, a professor of computer science at Princeton University, gave a talk titled “How to recognize AI snake oil,” which went viral.  “The slides were downloaded tens of thousands of times and his tweets were viewed by millions,” Times said. “Sensing an appetite, he teamed up with Sayash Kapoor, one of his Ph.D. students, to write a book on the topic, which will be published in 2024,” the magazine added. The duo has been sharing their ideas as they develop and commenting on recent developments in AI on their Substack, AI Snake Oil.

The field of artificial intelligence has come a long way since Shakir Mohamed first enrolled in the University of Cambridge to study machine learning in 2007. After joining what was then a small London-based startup called DeepMind, he “pioneered some of the early research around generative AI models.” He is now a research director at Google DeepMind. Having grown up in South Africa, he noticed early in his career the scarcity of researchers from his home continent. In 2017, he co-founded the Deep Learning Indaba, “an organization that aims to strengthen machine learning and AI across Africa.” He told Time that his “personal mission is to work on machine learning that has a social purpose; to work on projects that place the needs of local communities at the forefront of AI research.” — 

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