Balachander Krishnamurthy: Futurist, Inventor, Innovator and AT&T Fellow

If you ask Balachander Krishnamurthy what he does at AT&T, he’ll simply tell you – “I get paid to think.”

Bala is a Lead Inventive Scientist and was recently named an AT&T Fellow – a distinguished title awarded to employees who make notable scientific and technical achievements that have significant impact to AT&T’s business. And Bala has not only made substantial contributions to AT&T but to the tech industry as a whole.

Bala, who this month celebrated his 35th service anniversary at AT&T, has written and edited 10 books, published more than 125 papers, and holds 84 issued and 40+ pending patents.

One of his key contributions is in the world of Internet protocols and measurement. His books on the topics have influenced an entire generation of researchers and practitioners around the world. HTTP/1.1 protocol is the "language" spoken by browsers and Web servers across the globe, and Bala's HTTP/1.1 book is available in Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese!

So what is Internet measurement? You guessed it – it involves measuring various aspects of the Internet including traffic, applications and routing. It’s critically important in helping us better understand the complexity of the Internet and identify ways to improve it. And, in addition to Bala’s expansive research on the subject, he stood up the first-ever conference on Internet measurement in 1999. Now in its 22nd year, the annual conference brings together hundreds of researchers to share ideas, collaborate and problem solve.

Bala is also a sought-after expert on Internet privacy at AT&T. He is an acknowledged world-wide expert on this topic having published a score of papers and was among the first to point out privacy leakage on the Web and through social networks. He built an infrastructure to detect, measure, and mitigate such risks, and the Federal Trade Commission invited him to help organize their 2010 Privacy Roundtables - using his papers to document early leakages by popular social networks. All in the name of keeping the consumer safe!  

Most recently, he’s devoted his time and expertise to one of today’s most pressing topics in tech – mitigating machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence bias. Bala helped develop instrumental tools to evaluate and identify potential biases in ML systems. These tools solve business-critical problems early on and illustrate the importance of thinking two, three, four steps ahead in technology.

It's clear when you speak with Bala that he is passionate about and proud of his work. And this is most evident when he speaks about his colleagues and what keeps him at AT&T after three decades. 

“There is a tradition of excellence at AT&T, a desire to do good for the society and to work with integrity. This has remained consistent with leadership changes and forays into different businesses. The main reason I love working here is that there are many bright colleagues who care about delivering value for our customers.”

Bala’s advice for technologists, inventors and futurists at any stage in their career is to 1) never stop learning, and 2) pursue projects that they are genuinely interested in rather than chasing the next “hot” topic. Both of which he’s had the freedom to do at AT&T.

Interested in pursuing a career like Bala’s? Check out AT&T’s current tech job opportunities.

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