My Digital Hero: Holly Hall, MD, BIMA (British Interactive Media Association)

We’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them.

Holly Hall became MD of BIMA, the UK’s digital trade body, at the start of 2018. She was previously International Business Development Director for D&AD.

Who is your digital hero?

The formidable Nell Watson, AI and tech philosopher and machine intelligence engineer. Nell was recommended to me by two of our council chairs. When I saw their usually wizened eyes light up I knew I had to take a look.

What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?

Nell speaks about the relationship between people and technology and how we can create a positive future for all.

She provokes and interrogates and can be controversial, but it always comes from a place of extreme intellect and is delivered in the gentlest of Irish lilts. Whether you’re lucky to hear her in the flesh or on screen, it’s mind-blowing.

How has her heroism helped drive digital?

Nell is driving discussion on the big issues of our day: what we should be teaching our children, the rules we should be setting for a future dominated by machines, what good governance and true accountability might look like.

Through her work and projects such as pacha.org and EthicsNet.org she is bringing critical thinking to light. And through her global speaking appointments she’s conveying such ideas to an audience far wider and broader than academia.

What the biggest challenges in media we need another hero to solve?

AI is changing our industry and will ultimately change every industry. But many are still only dipping their toe in the water.

I think there is a huge challenge in educating everyone, not just tech people, on the opportunities and practical steps.

Ultimately this is just as much of a cultural challenge as it is a tech or data one. Microsoft has created the AI Business School so that anyone can jump in, which I think is a great start.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital?

At BIMA we’re building something that I think is pretty unique, a community of communities. One that recognises the complex and diverse nature of the digital ecosystem right now but is essentially based on our members drive to innovate and grow.

We did two things this year that I feel really reflect this and I’m immensely proud of being a part of: ‘The voices of our industry’ – a report that outlines the huge diversity challenges the industry faces but also highlights strategies for change, and our inaugural BIMA Conference, a meeting of minds that explored both our greatest challenges and biggest opportunities as digital practitioners.

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