INTERVIEWS WITH INDUSTRY LEADERS
a deep dive into today's digitization through the unchanging biblical lens
Bret A. Curlee joins us at the Center of Excellence for Digital Ethics for a candid interview on FinTech and Advanced Investment Technology. "Ethics is who we are. It's not what we do." Bret is the Managing Director at GuideStone Financial Resources and he discussed ethics in data integrity, data aggregation, and talent management.
Who is watching the data in the world of FinTech, especially when it comes to investments? It is paramount to infuse a strong human discernment and judgement through the results of automation of summarized data. How easily can we influence our customers by merely relying on AI's recommendations and relaxing our keen assessment of those indicators.
The advances of FinTech are such that there is an overwhelming amount of important data to review every minute. But how much data do you provide your investment customers? Providing too many data points can overwhelm a person. It requires judgment, preferably by a group with diverse perspectives, to make those decisions. It is also important to engage with customers and listen to what they want, at all points in their journey.
Bret A. Curlee practices his Christian beliefs in all aspects of his work. In this interview he also discusses talent management practices in the financial world. He recommends hiring based on character, as well as skill sets. "Character leads to ethics; ethics is a behavior, and character is what drives those ethics when nobody's watching." He has found it important to evaluate candidates in group interviews, since different people pick up on different things, which will often contradict or supplement what the AI-based talent management platform has indicated. "In hiring decisions, remember that diversity of thought matters, as well. Diversity is not simply male/female or skin color. Don't rely solely on automation tools to hire. Be willing to override them when hiring a candidate." Bret has also found that when using assessment tools, one has to remember cultural backgrounds can influence a candidate's answers or scores.
Lee Bratcher, President of the Texas Blockchain Council, gifts us with a candid interview at the Center of Excellence for Digital Ethics at DBU. Blockchain use cases range from property rights and global land registries to digital IDs and voting. We need to educate ourselves on distributed ledger technology, its benefits, and ways to protect against the potential of corruption. Engage with Lee Bratcher as he discusses the intersection between digital ethics and the continuum from permissioned to permissionless blockchain, between transparency and data privacy, and between governments and private services. Find out how to get involved and engage others winsomely in the public square.
Lee's own words describing his background :
Currently, I am a program director at Dallas Baptist University with the responsibility to recruit students, increase academic quality, and conduct research. I have been awarded multiple grants to be used in these lines of effort and have been asked to speak by various industry groups on blockchain applications in social science. As a Captain in the U.S. Army reserves, I serve as an ROTC instructor at UT Arlington and UT Dallas and hold a security clearance.
"Always do the right thing." Our guest Rusty Kennington talks about inculcating proper AI design in the minds of his teams, during his interview at our Center of Excellence for Digital Ethics at Dallas Baptist University. He speaks about how to fuse digital ethics into AI systems from the beginning, focusing on a desire to serve others well, and leading by example. Today, businesses are learning that they cannot use unexplainable AI systems - we have to tame, cultivate, and mature our passion for information, so that even better results can be derived. Find out how data governance, quality, and structure can actually fuel acceleration and improve AI outcomes. We must have conversations about the strengths and weaknesses of algorithms, the goals of our AI systems, and the nature of the data, so that together we can continue to improve and advance progress responsibly.
Rusty Kennington is the Chief Information Officer at Corsicana Mattress. His career highlights are below:
’ve spent the past 25+ years creating tangible, financial benefits by leveraging IT in ways previously unimagined or unsuccessful. This track record is the result of engaging business leaders, listening, and then delivering. I have spent my career as IT within operations, sales, and finance so I know how important it is to galvanize a team around what really matters, whether it’s growing share in a market, opening new markets, reducing SG&A, etc.
It takes a great team, and great teams don’t just happen; they need to be cultivated and I believe this is a fundamental job of any leader. I really enjoy helping technology teams find the next gear (I know how IT works on the inside, so I know what great looks like and how to get there). And when teams reach this level of performance and business impact, it is a lot of fun! It’s contagious!
We take “what’s possible” to the next level; using knowledge of technology and business to bring new options to the table. It is how IT takes a strategic role in the business. And we have a lot of fun doing it. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you’re having a positive impact on the bottom line. These results are not based on any particular technology or industry… they are the outcome of how I do what I do.
• Track record of partnering and aligning with business stakeholders and driving transformational changes in business operating models and performance. Recent successes using analytics, mobility, advanced ERP optimization (SAP, Oracle and others), and IT process optimization. Also created strong competency in mergers and acquisitions.
• Adept at creating high-performing, customer-focused teams that rapidly and consistently deliver.
• Successfully deployed mobile platforms to reach customers, executives, and operators wherever they are.
• Championed industry-leading, award-winning customer e-commerce portal with proven market-share growth
We sat down and chatted about AI governance with Cortnie Abercrombie. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” Proverbs 31:8. AI is in every part of our lives and impacts us every day, whether we are aware of it or not. Find out how AI can affect your physical safety, as well as how social media is profiling and labeling you into digital tribes without your knowledge, in this thought-provoking interview with Cortnie Abercrombie. Learn the steps we need to take to ignite a needed cultural revolution in AI and machine learning. It is essential that we educate ourselves and others on how the AI underpinnings affect our safety, rights, and personal liberty. Cortnie Abercrombie is the CEO and Founder of www.AITruth.org, a non-profit that helps make people aware of how their personal data can be used against them.
“What are the main things you should be concerned about when it comes to AI?” 1) Safety - AI that can directly or indirectly harm you physically. Survival and safety are basic needs. They include: 1) ability to secure food, water, shelter; 2) safety from violence; 3) safety from accidents; 4) safety from illness Examples: self-driving cars, robot assisted surgery, autonomous weapons, health diagnostic systems or applications, social media ads, deep fakes 2) Rights and Liberties - Defn: Rights = govt. actions to protect us, Liberties = protections against govt. actions Examples of Rights & Liberties: freedom of speech, religion, press, peaceful assembly, petition, to bear arms, due process under the law How do these things happen? Ethical AI underpinnings are required to ensure protection of Safety and Rights & Liberties. These include: data privacy, security, consent, agency/control, access, transparency, explainability, accountability, traceability, and rectification. How do we even begin to fix these things? What are some things people can do? In all cases we have to represent those who could be harmed and try our best to prevent it. No matter what role you find yourself in, whether you are a junior data scientist fresh out of school starting an AI project within a larger team, a marketing manager with no concept of how AI works but funding its use in your campaign, or on the board of a company who wants to use AI, you can do something to help. These are the main things you need to do: 1) Determine the impact of the AI initiative on people’s lives (does the good outweigh the harm?); 2) Deal fairly with people’s data and fully vet that data; 3) Build in choice and transparency to reduce bias via vetted data and feedback loops; 4) Accountability: Take accountability in your own dealings with AI, encourage others to take accountability, if you can then enable it systemically and operationally; 5) If you are in charge of AI initiatives or vendors that will perform AI work for you, then develop a responsible innovation plan of action: 5a) assess the current state of your AI operations, determine the target state, understand the gaps; 5b) decide an ethical AI implementation strategy complete with goals and KPIs: “How” needs to be measured not just “what and when"; 5c) determine people, processes, and tech needed to implement the strategy and continue its governance going forward; 5d) measure and communicate the results; 5e) continually improve and monitor. Visit to understand more about Responsible AI creation and use. See case studies, articles, a reading list to get you started that was curated by leading AI Ethicists from across the world. To discuss responsible AI with Cortnie, contact her at
With companies seeking to enter the exciting space of AI opportunities that drive innovation, discussions on digital ethics need to be prioritized by people at all levels in an organization. Join the dialogue as we talk with Jason Clark about approaches to starting these conversations in the workplace, developing policies that align with core values, and arming yourself with the knowledge to stay on top of trends in technology. Whether you are a C-suite executive, data scientist, technology professional, or in transition, listen to Jason chat with Paola Saibene about strategies on how to navigate better the ethical issues surrounding the world of data privacy and AI algorithms.
Jason is a technology and business analytics leader with extensive experience in creating, leading, and developing high performing teams for Fortune 1000 size companies. He manages groups with an analytical focus with the goal of enabling decision science. Jason has demonstrated capability to commercialize “winning” analytics strategies through development and innovation, with the ability to grow the bottom-line adding financial growth. Through his "Serve" leadership style, it is his priority to be the tactical and strategic ally within the business that provides, as well as enables ethical and elite decision support that drives business ahead.
He has a strong business development, planning and project management background with a double Masters (M.S. Applied Economics from the University of Texas at Dallas - completed in 2002 + M.S. Data science from Southern Methodist University - 2017 completion).