Martin Trevino on Data-Driven Decision Making

Dr. Martin Trevino, a chief scientist and independent consultant in the realm of cyber risk, was interviewed on Mission Matters Innovation Podcast by Adam Torres.

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Dr. Martin Trevino aims to improve strategic decision-making by reimagining the sensory experience of analytics in the realms of enterprise risk – cyber, data privacy, and information assurance through the use of Neuro and decision science.

How did you get started?

The son of a US Marine, Dr. Trevino wanted to be a fighter pilot as a child, but couldn’t pursue that dream because of minor hearing issues. After completing his education, he began serving as a US intelligence officer specializing in Cyber and Information Assurance.  Dr. Trevino eventually went on to lead a global analytics team as the senior technical director.

The future of AI-driven decision making

Dr. Martin says there are misconceptions of what AI is. “Think machine learning… think algorithms today,” he says. “Artificial intelligence that you see in the movies doesn’t exist today, and probably will not exist for some time. Machine learning is in its nascent stages, (even) for all the incredible advances that we have.” 

To accomplish specific tasks, he notes, decisions have to be broken up by type. Executives who are incredibly busy say they want their work to be data-driven, so   “we want to use AI, mash these two things together, and do good,” he says. “We have to think of it as multiple spectrums: if you go long right to the left on one end of the spectrum, it is pure; it is what we call low order decisions, or decisions that require low degrees of complex reasoning to accomplish. Think of ordering paper for the office, or writ(ing); an algorithm could do that very quickly.” The future of data-driven decision-making, he explains, is to understand the human brain.

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How does the human brain make data-driven decisions? 

The human brain has two systems that are of paramount importance in decision making, Dr. Trevino says. “The limbic system, which controls decision-making, trusts feelings, but not language. So the limbic system controls the decision-making process, but it’s all about trust and it’s all about feelings, but it can’t articulate what it’s doing,” he says. “Another system that functions in coordination and competition with it is the neocortex. The neocortex is responsible for all our analytic thought but has no decision-making capacity. So, the part of the brain that does analytical thinking can speak (while) the part of the brain that makes decisions (is) all about language and feeling.” As an example, he notes, when someone decides to “go with their gut” even to the detriment of the outcome, that’s the tangible or visible output of those two systems competing and cooperating. The goal is to get AI to a point where it can make smart decisions quickly and efficiently.

Why should one not go with gut feeling?

While Trevino notes it isn’t always easy to go against a gut feeling in business, AI technology has data backing up its conclusions. If the data clearly shows evidence of positive results as well as the risk factors associated with a wrong decision, people tend to go with the technology’s recommendations, he says. 

The benefits of using AI

Even if a company can improve its decision-making outcomes by 5%, it can save money, Trevino says. Even simple things like minimizing the types of charts and graphs used in presentations or making color choices for an executive space can be better handled by artificial intelligence, he notes. A new type of AI called “augmented cognitive intelligence” knows the user’s biases, as well as what types of data and analytics they want to see; it even understands some aspects of psychology. Through its use, he says, people can minimize risks and make better decisions. “Data will not be seen but felt in the future,” he predicts.

Connect with Dr. Trevino on LinkedIn to learn more.