The Data Chief | Episode 88

Data, AI, Action: Navigating GenAI with Chris Stephens, Field CTO at Appen

Chris Stephens

Field CTO


Current EpisodeEP88: Data, AI, Action: Navigating GenAI with Chris Stephens, Field CTO at Appen

Episode Overview

In this episode, Chris Stephens, Field CTO at Appen, dives into how CDO’s are navigating the world of generative AI. From setting clear expectations to driving adoption within organizations, Chris and Cindi explore the challenges and opportunities in this evolving landscape. Chris shares Appen's innovative approach to integrating humans into deep learning processes and discusses the potential of synthetic data. Plus, he shares how crucial human expertise is, in shaping ethical AI practices and touches on the impact of legislation and industry trends on AI's future.

Key Moments: 

  • The Impact of generative AI on CDOs  [06:19]
  • Appen and the excitement of generative AI [10:34]
  • The potential of synthetic data and content curation [12:13]
  • The importance of CDOs embracing generative AI [17:40]
  • The early stage of generative AI and funding innovation [26:39]
  • The importance of human in the loop [34:09]
  • The role of legislation and industry leadership [38:46]

Key Quotes: 

As a CDO, I think you absolutely have to figure out how to grab onto that, take ownership of it, and provide the leadership that your company needs - if you don't, then of course someone else will.  

All of the challenges come on the non-technical side. Being successful in these programs is about more humanistic type skills than it is being a wizard in the technology space, in my opinion.

The work that Appen does is working in support of all of these global organizations and the key is getting humans involved in these loops. 



Chris has been leading large-scale data transformations for over a decade, bringing advanced analytics capabilities to the world for 25 years.  Most recently, he served in CDO roles at GEICO, Zendesk, and American Eagle Outfitters.  Prior to that he helped lead the Data Science practice at Pivotal Software helping organizations around the world adopt modern data and software practices.  He is Field CTO and Head of AI Solutions at Appen bringing AI systems to life for organizations around the world.  He is an advisor to Insight Partners and Battery Ventures helping shape a new generation of technology and teams.  He is Adjunct Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University teaching our next generation of data and AI leaders.   He is passionate about the human side of data, transformation, and innovation.  He hails from Pittsburgh with his wife and 5 young adult children.  An avid music fan, he reminds us that, "you who choose to lead must follow."

Hear more from Cindi Howson here. Sponsored by ThoughtSpot.