Kristina Libby of Hypergiant: “We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology”

Tyler Gallagher
Oct 28 · 7 min read

We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology. Decrying technology as good or bad is removing the control mechanism (i.e. humans) from the system. Humans are critical to safeguarding our own future. It’s up to us; so we must be curious, informed, and ask questions that will drive the conversation forward.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristina Libby, Executive Vice President of Future Science and Research at Hypergiant.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path?

AI is the technology that will substantially change our planet over the next many years; it will impact all industries and rethink how we work, where we live and how we live. There has been a lot of backlash in the technology industry over the past decade around the fact that it hasn’t been designed by everyone but is for everyone. These limitations actually hinder how technology can be used. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen with AI, and I wanted to be in the room, to share different opinions and offer different perspectives to ensure that there were more diverse perspectives. This ensures that we design solutions that are representative of more people and work in many other ways.

However, I didn’t pursue a career in AI. My academic focus was in International Security. From there, I worked in government, ran my own social media company, ran consumer PR for Microsoft, ran another company that built technology, worked in cybersecurity, and now work for Hypergiant — which is now the fastest growing AI company in the US. During that time, I have also taught at leading academic institutions and am currently teaching at NYU.

I got into AI because I believed that it was an important place to be, that more women needed to be involved, and because the whole thing is just simply fun. This is bleeding edge technology that will have a significant impact on our future. My mind gets to think and create new things every day, particularly here at Hypergiant. My current job is focused on solving the world’s biggest problems with the world’s best technology, and it’s my dream job.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

You are who you make yourself into. Do not let the limitations of others limit what you believe you are capable of. Chase the future, and figure out how you can impact it. And, never stop believing in what is possible — you just need to think a little bit bigger.

Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

Hypergiant is exploring so many things that are massively interesting: we are building interplanetary internet (a critical component necessary for interspace travel and colonization) and have a soon to be released product that will change the way we think about approaching climate change solutions. On top of that, we are building helmets for astronauts and military that present an incredibly more tactical view and awareness of a person’s surroundings. Beyond that I get to drive research about topics that range from the commercialization of space to the next great bio proteins and fuels. It’s never-ending and it’s always interesting.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have this wonderful friend, Dona Sarkar, who works at Microsoft. She’s a fashion designer, an author and a senior technology leader. I used to say “I’m not technical” because I don’t code for a living, and my advanced degree is not in a traditional science. She would laugh at me and say “You talk about tech more than anyone I know; you know technology philosophy; you can explain weird cybersecurity stuff. You are technical. Everyone is technical. Technology is everywhere.” It took me a while to realize I didn’t have to code to be technical — although, Dona is still trying to get me into code school, just for fun!

What are the 5 things that most excites you about the AI industry? Why?

What are the 5 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?

As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?

Humans are dangerous but also good and capable. AI is only as dangerous as the people that create it.

What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?

We need an informed and critical public, that understands technology. Decrying technology as good or bad is removing the control mechanism (i.e. humans) from the system. Humans are critical to safeguarding our own future. It’s up to us; so we must be curious, informed, and ask questions that will drive the conversation forward.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I’m a huge advocate of the New York Public Library, and a supporter. I will be until I die. I think we can teach ourselves anything and that books are our single best resource for education. I love that my involvement in the Library changes the lives of children and adults.

As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the AI space to thrive?

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?

The biggest pipeline problem is awareness. We need more women in science, but particularly AI. We need more women portrayed in television shows, books, movies, comic books — everything. That’s how you fix the pipeline problem: telling our stories helps inspire others. But, telling our stories in a cool way through pop-culture, is really what shifts the paradigm.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

“Think Bigger” — I say it all the time. The bigger we think, the more that is possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would love people to understand their own resilience. We can be broken and put back together. Our broken places can become our strongest features. If we believed more in our power to heal and to grow and to take on big problems, then we could actually heal, grow and take on big problems.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://twitter.com/KristinaLibby

Thank you for all of these great insights!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Tyler Gallagher

Written by

CEO and Founder of Regal Assets

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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