Credit card giant American Express has set up a Data Analysis, Risk and Technology (DART) lab at the
Institute of Technology (IIT) in Madras, that aims to 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 was established 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
The lab would focus on risks that originate from human behavior 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.
Manoj Adlakha, Senior Vice President and CEO, American Express Banking Corp India 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 said
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 percent of university-educated
women in India believing it is important to have ambitions, and 70 percent proud to call themselves
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 behavioral 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.
Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, 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.”
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.
By: Murtuza Merchant