David Benn, Computer Vision Expert | BE Achiever
David Benn is a Computer Vision expert. He consults for some of the big names in the industry including Defence, Commercial and Medical industries. In this interview, David shares with us his career journey and some challenges he has faced over time.
I did go to one or two job interviews with my CV polished up and standard … it is only when you appear that it is clear that there is an ethnic difference to what might have been expected for your name
For David Benn, getting integrated to the corporate world revealed to him certain things about race he had been oblivious to – because of his name, people had preconceived ethnic expectations of him. Born in the UK to Caribbean parents, David grew up in the blankets of a multi ethnic environment in South Hampton and was very new to the topic of racial prejudice until a job interview. “I did go to one or two job interviews with my CV polished up and standard … it is only when you appear that it is clear that there is an ethnic difference to what might have been expected for your name. Sometimes it was difficult for both myself and the interviewer to come to terms with it.” He says. Despite this setback, David remained dedicated to his passion and pursued a career in Computer Vision.
This Black Excellence Achiever who is inspired by the stories of the black women behind the success of NASA’s Apollo space programs in the 50s – Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, does computer cushion freelance (computer vision). The relatively new field is anchored on the banks of getting a computer system to understand and translate what it can see from a picture or scene. David shares how useful this idea can be for flying a drone over hostile territory (for defence companies) and in detecting and finding cures to diseases (medicine). “There’s a very special aspect of computer vision that I’ve got great expertise in which is hyperspectral. Instead of having just a black and white image which everybody knows about or a three-coloured image (red, green and blue), in hyperspectral we have maybe 200 colours and we use this spectrum to look at an object and work what it is made of. If we look at a powder for instance, we can determine if it is sugar or something else. Anything to do with an image from a sensor a camera sensor, I process that information.”
You’ve got to be able to beat your own drum and sing your own praises in a way that they think yeah! We’ve got to get this person here
David opines that it is difficult to change prejudices that people might have about you as a black person as unfortunately humans are similar to computers and the images fed to them is what they respond to. However, he says the key is to keep feeding everyone you meet with positive images and to communicate clearly about your persona and what you have to offer during interviews. “You’ve got to be able to beat your own drum and sing your own praises in a way that they think yeah! We’ve got to get this person here.”
Black Excellence promotes the achievements of black people in the UK and seeks to obtain a levelled playing field for black people in the corporate world. Have a success story to share with us? Please send a mail to email@example.com.