Associate Design Director
Mckinsey & Company
Mara is an Associate Design Director at Mckinsey & Company, where she helps organizations drive AI adoption through human-centered methods. She defines herself as a data-savvy humanist: her practice spans across AI, data journalism, and design with the overarching objective of finding the strategic intersection between AI models and human intents to implement responsible AI systems that move organizations forward. Previously, she founded and led the AI Strategy practice at IBM, where she also developed the company’s first-ever data literacy program with the intent to bring a novel approach to data and AI into employees' daily practice by empowering them with new skills to craft stories with data and unfold the AI's complexity. Yet, by background, she is a data journalist. She worked as a data journalist for agencies and newsrooms like Pentagram and Aljazeera. Mara lectured at many universities about how to humanize AI, including the London School of Economics. Her books and writing explore how to weave a humanistic approach into AI development.
Human-Centered AI: from principles to practice
Good design is good business. Even more so today: good AI design is good business. Designing for AI is crucial to render people’s intents into meaningful applications of AI that are valuable for users and organizations. Implementation of AI remains a challenge. Too often, users’ problems, business intents, and models’ trustworthiness are treated as afterthoughts because organizations don’t have frameworks to translate principles into technical requirements. This is where design matters. Human-centered methods help frame AI use cases through the lens of human needs and surface potential risks ahead of implementation.
But how AI design can catalyze the paradigm shift from a tech-driven approach to AI to a human-centered one? By operating thru a new generation of practitioners: the data-savvy humanists. These experts, sitting at the intersections of strategy, design, and AI, will keep algorithms in check. They will be the ones using data to back hypotheses and challenge assumptions. These experts will forge the next generation of designers. They will push the advancement of AI forward by transforming data and algorithms into great visions illuminating companies’ paths towards responsible AI transformation.