The Data Science Lab is the heart of innovation at Equifax. In
this interview, Chris Yasko, Interim Enterprise Innovation
Officer , pulls back the curtain.
What does the Data Science Lab do?
The Data Science Lab invents the future for Equifax. We work
on the really hard problems that the company can take to market
over the next two to three years. The Data Science Lab was founded
in 2015 and is a long-term investment by the company. The lab is
chartered to “pioneer disruptive solutions that drive profitable
What has the lab accomplished?
The Data Science Lab delivers artificial intelligence (AI)
and machine learning (ML) “components” that improve existing Equifax
products, or could launch entirely new solutions. These AI/ML
components span many diverse topics, including: Explainable AI,
Unstructured Data, Natural Language Processing, Production Deployment
and Regulatory Compliance.
What products/services has the lab developed?
Our most visible accomplishment
so far is inventing NeuroDecision® Technology.
We believe NeuroDecision Technology received the first
Explainable AI (xAI) patent in the world using transparent AI/ML
neural networks to meet regulatory compliance. We have extended xAI
to gradient boosted machines and random forests for various use
cases. On other customer requested projects, we have applied AI
Expert Learning to big data ingestion to improve automotive lost
sales analysis, commercial marketing data and geographic classification.
What does the Data Science Lab hope to accomplish in
the near future?
The lab is extending our foundation from explainable
Predictive Analytics (xAI) into explainable Prescriptive Analytics
(RxAI). We are focusing energy on time series events, optimal path
sequencing, and optimizing cloud infrastructure for adaptive AI.
What do you do at the lab?
I have the best job in Equifax since I get to lead the Data
Science Lab team. My job is many different roles all at the same
time: coach, mentor, evangelist, servant, sheriff and inventor.
What is your background?
I have been working in R&D engineering teams for over
three decades, both as a “entrepreneur” with start-up companies and
as “intrapreneur” for large corporate labs. I really enjoy building
high performance teams that want to invent something that’s never
been done before. I’ve developed early 3G/4G mobile phones (LTE),
wireless communications (WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS), automotive
telematics (IoT), cyber security appliances (FIPS-140), multi-core
semiconductors (DSP, CPU), and electric vehicle charging stations
What inspires you about your work at the lab?
I really like structured chaos. We are a strict Agile Scrum
shop with two-week Sprints. We engage with key customers,
universities and industry leaders to create novel solutions that can
be applied across numerous applications.
We are given freedom to explore.
Who works in the the Data Science Lab
(scientists, statisticians, etc.)
The core group is about a dozen full time data scientists
and data engineers, most with doctorate degrees, along with
various PhD students from leading universities. We all seem to come
from outside of financial services industry, with different
backgrounds in signal processing, theoretical mathematics, computer
engineering, political science, and biometrics. One recent hire is a
What makes the lab unique to Equifax?
We are allowed to investigate our own ideas, challenge the
status quo and even allowed to fail. Most of our big ideas come from
informal conversations rather than sticky note brainstorming
sessions. Our diverse career backgrounds allow us to set aside
traditional financial services thinking and look for totally new
ways to solve an old problem.
How does your work at the lab help consumers live
better financial lives?
We focus much of our energy on building new AI/ML components
that can assist populations gain access to their first financial product.
We are actively working on
innovative solutions that will help credit invisibles,
immigrants, students and first-time loan applicants
reach their financial goals.