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AiThority Interview with Amir Husain, Founder and CEO at SparkCognition


The AI market is booming. How, as a CEO, do you make sure that SparkCognition stands out from the rest of AI businesses? At the same time, how important is collaboration for companies to collectively advance the developments in AI?

SparkCognition is focused on real-world, meaningful applications of AI that can make a difference to our customers almost immediately. Our core platform hasn’t been retrofitted to adapt to AI, it’s been engineered with AI capabilities from the ground up. Since its inception, SparkCognition has been dedicated to advancing the science of artificial intelligence. We have an industry-leading research team that is actually expanding the frontiers of AI, not merely applying off-the-shelf solutions. Combining this research focus with a sincere devotion to the customer is one of the core reasons I believe SparkCognition stands out.

When it comes to AI innovation, collaboration is critical. The best way to solve the problems our customers are facing is to truly get to know the industry, the business, and their challenges. One example of this is our work with Siemens Energy to bring our DeepArmor®️ Industrial product to energy customers. Through close collaboration with Siemens Energy, we explored the inner workings of the power generation industry and developed a true understanding of how to solve the cybersecurity problem faced by customers with potentially vulnerable assets.

SparkCognition recently acquired AIM2. Kindly tell us how the acquisition accelerates the larger trend of incorporating AI capabilities in the financial services industry.

There is abundant potential for artificial intelligence to make a meaningful impact in the financial services sector – whether for fraud detection, market making, quantitative investment strategy, operational efficiencies, or cybersecurity. We are already seeing larger trends form around exponential technologies in finance, such as the rise of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which will create a growing need for AI capabilities. With our acquisition of AIM2, SparkCognition is well-positioned to address the challenges faced by the world’s largest financial services companies, and ultimately apply artificial intelligence to solve those problems.

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Among the many industries you serve, which has been the fastest and slowest to adopt AI, and with what developments?

Traditionally, the government is slower to adopt new technologies due to the regulations and bureaucracy that comes with the sector. However, we’ve seen an increased commitment from the U.S. government to adopt artificial intelligence and other exponential technologies. The establishment of groups within the government, like the Defense Innovation Unit which helps accelerate contracts with commercial companies, the JAIC (Joint Artificial Intelligence Center) which acts as a central point of contact for industry, and the AI Caucus which discusses the implications of emerging technologies, are some of the recent ways the sector has promoted AI adoption. Regarding the fastest adoption rates, we have seen great increase in interest and acceptance of the technology in several commercial sectors, such as manufacturing, energy, transportation, and others.

How, according to you, the global pandemic affected these adoption rates? And, how would you predict the adoption rate after the COVID-19 era?

This pandemic has certainly affected every business in one way or the other, and has forced companies to adopt new ways to operate. With increased reliance on technology and software, I believe the changes we have seen during the pandemic will stay long after COVID-19 is under control. For example, we have seen an increase in cybersecurity concerns with a large amount of the workforce now at home. Additionally, healthcare and government sectors have seen a great need for advanced technology to help track and contain the virus – and accelerated adoption of these technologies to suit those needs. Ultimately, efficiency and keeping costs down are crucial in the face of a wavering economy, and AI applications – such as predictive analytics, cybersecurity, and natural language processing – will help achieve those goals and better prepare us to fight future crises. More broadly, I feel COVID has made it clear that there are likely to be situations where we will want our infrastructure to operate in circumstances where humans cannot be present. Dealing with these eventualities means investing in automation at an even greater pace than before. And advanced automation without AI is really not possible.

How has SparkCognition stood its ground in the pandemic? What were your remote workplace stacks and how they helped you to stay on top of your game?

Even prior to the pandemic, SparkCognition has had offices and teams located across the globe, so we are used to collaborating in virtual environments. Thankfully, this allowed for a smooth full-time transition to work from home for the company and has let us focus on staying healthy while still going full steam ahead!

Cybersecurity has become the hottest topic in the last couple of months. How do you think AI will assist in mitigating these security challenges?

Security has been a focus of ours since SparkCognition’s inception. As the world becomes exponentially more reliant on technology, unfortunately, cyber attacks become exponentially more sophisticated. As these attacks grow in scale and complexity, the easier it is for hackers to circumvent legacy antivirus solutions. The best way to safeguard your business’s information and assets is by using AI-powered cybersecurity solutions, like SparkCognition’s DeepArmor®️ product. Ultimately, applying artificial intelligence to cybersecurity challenges provides a significantly more sustainable way to predict new, never-before-seen threats and reduce risks of attacks.

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Could you please talk to us about Hyper-personalization? Its current status and how enterprises can use it to achieve real progress with respect to their digital transformation.

Hyper-personalization is a technique that uses AI to allow end-users to view and consume content that is tailored to them. Different manifestations of this approach are already used today in marketing and advertising, and we encounter these efforts daily when we visit social networks or surf the web. With an increased reliance on advanced technologies and devices, hyper-personalization will only become more prevalent in our lives and has the potential to become a true asset in tailoring to a customer’s unique needs. In one sense, it is a partial fulfillment of the AI vision of machines “knowing” you and “understanding” your needs. It makes life simpler when not everything you need has to be remembered, ordered, asked for explicitly, and paid for manually. Sufficiently advanced hyper-personalization increases the emotional engagement between users and machines by creating a sense of “understanding”.

Any other AI startups or businesses you keep your eyes on?

I read up on several different AI businesses, partially because it’s informative and partially because new uses of AI applications fascinate me. Most recently, I have kept up with companies that are using artificial intelligence for trading financial assets. I’m also deeply interested in the intersection of blockchain and AI. Finally, I am a huge believer in education and am an early investor in Emile Learning, a very creative young educational startup that uses analytics and AI to tailor outcomes.

What would be your predictions going forward in 2021 with respect to AI developments?

I’ve written about this topic in-depth in a recent article for Forbes, but at a high level: I foresee 5G becoming a part of the mainstream, along with the adoption of networked aerial terrestrial swarm systems, autonomous cars, drones in urban areas, numerous meaningful developments in the field of quantum computing, the growing popularity of no-code AI applications, and the very first generation of volumetric displays. Ultimately, there will be several exciting innovations to look out for this year!

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Thank you, Amir! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

Amir Husain is a serial entrepreneur, inventor, technologist, and author based in Austin, Texas. He is the Founder and CEO of an award-winning artificial intelligence company, SparkCognition, and is the founding CEO of SkyGrid, a Boeing and SparkCognition joint venture that is building an aerial operating system to power the next century of aviation. He is also the author of the best-selling book “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence” and a co-author of the compilation “Hyperwar: Conflict and Competition in the AI Century.”

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SparkCognition catalyzes sustainable growth for their clients throughout the world with proven artificial intelligence (AI) systems, award-winning machine learning technology, and a multinational team of AI thought-leaders. Clients are trusted with advancing lives, infrastructure, sustainability, and financial systems across the globe. They partner with SparkCognition to understand their industry’s most pressing challenges, analyze complex data, empower decision-making, and transform human and industrial productivity. With leading-edge artificial intelligence products—Darwin®️, DeepArmor®️, SparkPredict®️, and DeepNLPTM—SparkCognition’s clients can adapt to a rapidly changing digital landscape and accelerate their business strategies

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