AWS Public Sector Blog

Democratizing generative AI to inspire diverse innovation: Insights from AWS executive Dave Levy

Sarah Storelli and Dave Levy pose in a studio during the recording of their vodcast episode

Sarah Storelli and Dave Levy recently recorded the fourth episode of the AWS Behind the Cloud vodcast.

The democratization of technology has led to some of the most transformative innovations across industries and within the communities we learn, live, work, and play. Yet, accessibility to technology is still a significant challenge worldwide, especially for underrepresented populations. Given generative artificial intelligence (AI) is now at the forefront, I’m curious, like many of you, about how it can uplift ideas and spotlight undiscovered innovations from underrepresented populations to improve our world.

Dave Levy, vice president of Amazon Web Services (AWS) worldwide public sector (WWPS), is an inspirational trailblazer who has devoted his career to helping customers realize technology’s potential for transforming their organizations and fulfilling their missions. If anyone knows how to leverage generative AI to help make our world more equitable, it’s Dave.

I’m Sarah Storelli, senior global marketing leader for AWS WWPS, and I’m on a quest to discover the people behind innovations across industries. In the vodcast series AWS Behind the Cloud, I connect with pioneers serving the public sector globally to learn more about how their stories shape and define the way they build and support cutting-edge technologies that help make the world a better place.

In the fourth episode of AWS Behind the Cloud, I sat down with Dave to uncover 1) how generative AI can democratize the playing field surrounding inclusion, diversity, and equity (ID&E) to create more meaningful impact and technological innovations for business, government, and society, and 2) the importance of lifelong curiosity, hard work, and active listening.

Dave grew up in South Texas with parents who served as educators (his father was also a scientist!). Academia was an integral part of Dave’s youth and still informs how he fundamentally approaches life. Unsurprisingly, the Amazon Leadership Principle “Learn and Be Curious” is the one that resonates with him the most.

“There’s not a meeting or anything that I do that I don’t walk away from actually learning something. Whether it’s learning about a customer or Partner, or something that colleagues are doing, for me, ‘Learn and Be Curious’ is the foundational principle. It’s the curiosity that you must have about everything,” says Dave. “And that leads to a lot of active listening…it is a critically important skill. You can form a strong brand for yourself by not speaking as much and listening a lot more.”

During our discussion, Dave addresses how he is keenly aware that he is an African American in the highest executive position of AWS WWPS. “From a diversity perspective, being in the role is rare. It’s an opportunity for me and an opportunity to demonstrate that someone who comes from a background like mine can be successful in a big corporation where there may be few people who are of color or of a certain gender,” says Dave. “It is motivating because I want to set an example of what is possible, what can be accomplished, and what voices can be in the room…it is inspiring!”

As the conversation continues, I ask him if he thinks generative AI can democratize the playing field for ID&E. His response? Absolutely.

“Technology has democratized someone’s innate ability—if one is willing to learn it. Generative AI is similar. Generative AI is democratizing access if you have ideas or things that you want to innovate on, as the cost of doing that is coming way down. The tools to do it are much more accessible. At AWS, that’s what we’re doing: we’re making those tools available. Entrepreneurs all around the world on every continent now can get access—in a cost-effective way that they couldn’t do many years ago—to the most powerful technology in the world,” says Dave. “Generative AI is still in early stages, but it’s incredibly exciting, particularly for those in underserved areas where getting access to technology is going to be critical. I think we’re going to see ideas, innovations, and inventions that we haven’t thought of yet. Look at technologies like Amazon CodeWhisperer. Writing code is a whole lot easier because now there are code libraries through generative AI.”

Behind Dave’s humility, lifelong learning mindset, and thoughtful and intentional leadership approach to help AWS WWPS customers, Partners, and colleagues exceed their potential and fulfill their mission, is something surprising. Dave never had a formal mentor or sponsor inside an organization. He shares how he has an “amalgamation of people” he has looked up to over the years around character, style, approach, and leadership, and applies the best of those qualities he finds in others to himself.

When all is said and done, what is most inspiring about Dave? His character and helping others grow. “I hope to set an example, and have an impact on teams, customers, and somebody’s career journey. I want people to be able to think about how they can take their talents and skills and put them in a place where they can have an impact. And I hope I can inspire people to do that, as I’ve certainly had that opportunity,” says Dave.

Ready to learn from AWS’s head of worldwide public sector about the importance of democratizing generative AI to inspire new innovations for the public sector? Interested in understanding how “Learn and Be Curious” can help you flourish in your career and make more impact in your communities and organizations? Watch the latest episode of AWS Behind the Cloud now.

Learn more about how AWS helps support public sector organizations using generative AI.

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Watch more AWS Behind the Cloud vodcast episodes in the series.

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Sarah Storelli

Sarah Storelli

Sarah Storelli oversees global marketing for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Worldwide Public Sector executive communications, customer programs, hospitality, and evangelism. She has a passion to help business, government, and society leverage tech for good through building strategic alliances and advocacy efforts. Sarah enjoys making the world a better place whenever possible through her various roles of service as a Trustee of the Consumer Technology Association Foundation, Member of the Cal Poly University President’s Council of Advisors, Chair of the Cal Poly English Department Advisory Board, and on the Board of Directors for World Institute on Disability and Center Point, Inc. She holds a degree in English with a minor in Law & Society from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.