Beyond Limits is attending OTC 2019 on May 6-9 in Houston, Texas.


The Offshore Technology Conference is the world’s premier offshore resources event where the global energy sector gathers to discover innovative, cutting-edge technologies and exchange ideas that advance scientific and technical knowledge regarding offshore resources and environmental matters.


Beyond Limits is going to be one of the only artificial intelligence companies on the show floor showcasing how our advanced AI solutions can transform your business.


McKinsey benchmarks reveal that the typical offshore platform runs at approximately 77 percent of maximum production potential. Industry-wide, this shortfall represents something in the order of 10 million barrels per day, or US$200 billion in annual revenue.


Beyond Limits AI solutions such as Well MD, our cognitive well health advisor, are designed to increase operator production by thousands of barrels per day.
Large-scale operators can apply the cognitive well health advisor solution to their deepwater wells in order to increase offshore production by:


Will you be at OTC 2019? Connect with us to learn how AI can transform your business!
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3 April 2019
Author: Beyond Limits Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer Mark James
Originally Published on Medium.


In part one, Beyond Limits CTO Mark James sets the scene for new developments at the intersection of AI and robotics. In part two, he describes how cognitive intelligence moves to the extreme edge, and provides cautionary guidance for humans to remain in control of artificial intelligence as it grows in power and capability.


Connectivity and intelligent analysis abilities remain stumbling blocks

Today we live in a digital world — virtually anything you can think of can be connected to virtually anything else; when you connect them, you generate data. Of course, moderation is important, here, but the fact is that data is now a fundamental resource in global society and we need to capitalize on it. Instead of simply sensing our environment, we can transform it into something that is safer, more profitable, and insightful. The key to this is ‘actionable intelligence’ — data and information that can be immediately acted upon without further processing by man or machine.

As the number of commercial and industrial IoT devices proliferate, connecting them and getting them to behave intelligently are among the biggest challenges to realizing the full potential of automation. An industrial facility might have anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 sensors monitoring the status of thousands of machines and processes, but they often reside in silos that don’t communicate. Some AI solutions are dependent on a cloud service architecture — essentially a mainframe approach with centralized computing — but in many industrial locations it’s hard to rely on sufficient bandwidth (or even connectivity in the first place). Data needs to be collected, correlated with historical performance data, and analyzed to provide actionable information and make decisions in real time. There’s no time to reach out to the mother ship for answers.


Intelligence where it counts

One important strategy for obtaining timely actionable intelligence is to embed intelligence at the source. This development enables decisions to be made at the sensor, rather than having to ‘phoning home’ to headquarters or a cloud service for what to do next.

Since many automation applications have operational control, making decisions quickly is essential. Unfortunately, the inherent latency when ‘crunching the numbers’ far from the edge is too great for many applications. In some cases, edge devices must be controlled within milliseconds. With military aircrafts, for example, sensor data needs to be acted upon constantly, on the spot. If the thousands of airfoil sensors were wired to a central computer onboard the aircraft, the wiring and computer could weigh more than the aircraft’s wings. Communicating to the cloud at Mach speed is also out of the question, so we need to use edge computing architectures and equip smart devices with artificial intelligence.


AI Moving to the Edge

Cognitive intelligence is destined to be distributed to the edge of the network, typically implanted in chips. With cognitive intelligence and situational awareness embedded at the extreme edge, we can read sensor data and analyze it in the context of historical data, human expertise, and overall system performance goals. With this, we can solve problems on the spot, in real time, which has profoundly positive implications across a breadth of applications and industries — it could bring human expertise to every node in a network, no matter how geographically dispersed. For autonomous operations to succeed on earth, as they have in space, the next big milestone in AI is intelligent hardware.

When Tools Become Extensions of Ourselves

We’ve come a long way since humans started using stone tools to conquer our environment. From our usage of smartphones to stay in contact with the world to our daily use of myriad appliances — using tools has become an innate part of human life. However, we’re at an interesting transition point. As our tools become more advanced, they are evolving from passive extensions of ourselves to active partners working alongside us. An axe or a hammer is a passive extension of a hand, but a drone forms a distributed intelligence in partnership with its operator. Such tools can interact with us in ways never before possible. Similar to the working relationship between a human and a horse or dog, there is a shared mission or purpose and semi-autonomous actions.

Our tools are now becoming actors unto themselves, and their future is in our hands. Think about the evolution of the car: from horse and carriage to Model-T, from cruise control to adaptive cruise control and now to driverless cars. Engineers are even programming cars using subtle ethics models, helping them to determine how to proceed in situations where an accident is unavoidable. These split-second decisions are not the province of simple sensor data or rules-based decision trees. Situational awareness and cognition are essential for informed judgement by autonomous systems.

Neural networks connected to CCTV cameras now easily outperform human beings in facial recognition in both speed and accuracy. Soon, the technology will be in place to make it possible to track everyone, everywhere, all the time. Naturally, this raises ethical questions.

Machine intelligence has made major advancements in the last five years, but still has a long way to go. It is probably impossible to limit how far AI will evolve, but we have time to embed safeguards to limit how these systems can affect us.


Limits to Machine Power

Many people believe that artificial intelligence is the same thing as machine learning. After all, they’ve heard about machine learning systems that can win a board game or video game, or one that can identify pictures of cats. But conventional machine learning solutions aren’t cognitive; they are trained from data, but lack the ability to leap beyond missing or broken data and build a hypothesis about potential actions. Machine learning can be effective in detecting something anticipated, but it fails when confronted by the unexpected.

Cognitive solutions, meanwhile, are partially based on prior observation, but rely more on the deductive and inductive aspects of cognition. Beyond Limits technology, for instance, is a cognitive leap beyond conventional AI. It employs higher-order symbolic reasoning, providing a human-like ability to perceive, understand, correlate, learn, teach, reason, and solve problems faster than existing AI solutions.


Powering Machines That Think

Core to Beyond Limits cognitive AI systems is the ‘symbolic reasoning engine’, which implements cognitive intelligence. It’s a cognitive engine that uses the outputs from sensors and neural networks and applies its education to understand what it sees (as it sees it) and explain its answers so that a person can understand. This is a new approach to reasoning, it’s like having your own personal Sherlock Holmes working for you 24/7, looking for subtle clues to catch the thief while he is trying to commit the crime, rather than after.

The AI autonomously shifts through corridors of information, discovering plausible facts and scenarios from diverse data. It does this, while avoiding the problems of typical machine learning systems, through a technique called ‘autonomic monitoring’. Autonomic monitoring is based on the philosophy that the brain is composed of distinct but interacting modules. These modules, using both local learning (training) and innate knowledge (education), will self-organize to solve problems. Because the system is trainable and learns autonomously on the fly, autonomic monitoring allows for serendipitous discovery during data analysis.


Shaping Our Future

It’s inevitable that AI systems will eventually adapt to become our intellectual superiors, with or without our permission. The question is, therefore, how can we shape this metamorphosis so that AI systems evolve into something that works to our advantage? This may sound like an ultimatum, but we have a choice whether to shape AI so it becomes our trusted companion (not servant) or our enemy.

At the moment, we’re safe. Conventional artificial intelligence today is known as narrow AI (or weak AI). These systems are good at performing a single specific task like playing chess, solving equations, or driving a car, but they can’t do anything else. Cognitive AI is the middle layer of sophistication in the pyramid of artificial intelligence — more capable than conventional AI, but not at the level of fictional movie robots.

However, the long-term goal of AI scientists is to create strong AI. While narrow AI may outperform humans at whatever its specific task is, strong AI would outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task. It would, as you often hear in movies: “evolve beyond its original programming”. And strong AI would never need to sleep, take vacations, or participate in any of the distractions that make our lives more pleasant but admittedly less productive.

The concern about advanced AI isn’t really about malevolence versus benevolence.

It’s about competence.

Most researchers agree that a super-intelligent AI is unlikely to exhibit human emotions like love or hate. And they agree that there is no reason to expect AI to become either intentionally malevolent or benevolent. Instead, when considering how AI might become a risk, two things come to mind:



The concern about advanced AI isn’t really about malevolence vs. benevolence. It’s about competence, which is key to building trust. A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals. If those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we have a problem.


Improving the Odds for Humans

There are two ways we can improve our odds of existing harmoniously with these intelligent entities. The first is to borrow an idea from Isaac Asimov, which he calls The Three Laws of Robotics. These three laws essentially define crucial rules that can be hardwired into all intelligent systems, preventing them from causing direct or indirect harm to humans and themselves.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

– Isaac Asimov

To make this a reality rather than just a 1940’s sci-fi story, we at Beyond Limits are developing a technology we call ‘Trusted Autonomy, the first step to ensure machines will remain our trusted helpers and not our destroyers. Our systems are designed to explain their reasoning and present evidence to people, ensuring that decision-makers are aware of the rewards, risks, and reasons of the solutions that our AI recommends. People make the final decisions. Over time, as the system gets smarter and produces valuable results, humans can choose to trust the AI’s thinking.

The second idea is more extreme, but we are already seeing it slowly become reality: for humans to become more like AI. Younger generations already exhibit some traits of a ‘connected’ hive mind society, and we are also seeing various implants that augment humans, such as AI-based hearing aids and prosthetic limbs. There are also more exotic sensory systems that monitor nerve impulses and translate human thoughts into actions.


From the Atomic Age to the Cognitive Era

AI and automation, like many tools that humans have invented, can be engineered to help us live our lives. It’s up to us. Like the atom, AI is not evil in and of itself. What people choose to do with these tools is another matter, often driven by political considerations. What the AI industry can do (and what Beyond Limits does), is to build AI systems to enable a safer, smarter world and ensure that well-trained users leverage industry standards of safety to influence their AI-enabled decisions.

We are a privileged generation to live in this era full of technological advancements. Gone are the days when we did almost everything manually. Now we live in a time where a great deal of difficult work has been taken over by machines, software, and other automatic processes.

When they predict that machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, scientists are counting on AI. Many believe that once the AI system starts working at its full capacity, it will reinvent the world that we know today. By inventing its own revolutionary new technologies, an AI superintelligence might help us eradicate war, disease, and poverty. In this regard, the creation of strong AI might be the biggest event in human history.

Imagine a world where menial tasks will be taken care of by AI applications — it will be a world in which much meaningless labour disappears. As this happens, humans can focus their strengths on higher levels of work, taking technology to new heights beyond the currently-accepted norms of human potential.

With the explosive growth in technology and AI development, we can expect to see many exciting new AI features and uses in the near future. Artificial Intelligence has a critically important role to play in the development of business and industrial processes. It also has incredible potential to take humans to the next level. With the right guidance and a value system that keeps it on our side, AI is a tool that can help us become our better selves. The choice is ours.

By Mark James, CTO of Beyond Limits

Images created by Beyond Limits — Jessica Simm, Creative Producer.

Originally published at on March 25, 2019.

21 March 2019
Author: Beyond Limits Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer Mark James
Originally Published on Medium

Part one of two articles about robotics and AI by Mark James, who spent 30 years developing advanced software systems for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and is now CTO of Beyond Limits, an AI engineering company in southern California.

Intelligence is a rare and valuable commodity. From the mysterious brain of the octopus and the swarm intelligence of ants, to Go-playing deep learning machines and driverless vehicles — intelligence is the most powerful and precious resource in existence. Despite recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enable it to win games and drive cars, there are countless untapped opportunities for advanced technology to have a significant and beneficial impact on the world. Particularly so at the intersection of AI and robotics.

Driven by three big trends, we’re currently in the middle of a powerful new wave of AI. Computer power is growing, algorithms and AI models are becoming more sophisticated, and, perhaps most important of all, the world is generating unimaginable volumes of data. Data, measured in billions of gigabytes every day, is collected by networked devices in virtually every industry. As a result, AI is being tightly interwoven into almost every aspect of our lives, from our cars and medical devices to robots and entertainment. It’s here to stay.

The question is, how can we shape it?

There is always public apprehension when pioneering technology is first introduced. When horseless carriages appeared on the streets of England, for instance, a flagman was required to walk in front so as to not frighten the horses that were about to be replaced. Today, many people have similar misgivings about robots. Movies and internet memes about overly-intelligent robots stir fears that machines are destined to take over, and yet most people overlook the robots already influencing their everyday lives. Who doesn’t appreciate the convenience of devices like washing machines or dishwashers? They do all the tedious work for us and they do so without complaint.


Early days for smart robots

Today we employ both robots and artificial intelligence, but the two are not yet combined in any profound way. We’re in the early days of the evolutionary saga of intelligent machines. Factories, for example, are filled with not-very-smart robots, fulfilling their destiny by fastening bolt after bolt, weld after weld. Various tech companies, meanwhile, are starting to deploy ‘embryonic’ AI systems, which do little more right now than flap their metaphorical machine learning limbs. They have no situational awareness. In keeping with the metaphor, these machines neither know what flying is, nor why one might want to fly from point A to point B, but nonetheless, they may someday achieve flight. Machine learning systems are the computing equivalent of the old pre-internet meme: if you had an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, they’d eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.


That said, there’s an important third concept where intelligence and mechanics do intersect: autonomy. Autonomy can be loosely described as giving AI certain freedoms to guide its action within a larger context; it presupposes that the system must have an overriding purpose, which it uses to guide its judgement and decision-making. If we consider the case of a NASA space mission, then; the purpose might be to conduct science on a remote planet. As such, the mission’s AI is programmed to know that despite unanticipated events or conditions, the mission must go on. Therefore, unlike the aforementioned wing-flapping machine learning systems, NASA’s AI needs additional capabilities. It needs to have both situational awareness, and the ability to make decisions that adapt to any surprise changes to its situation.

Businesses are eagerly embracing robotics coupled with AI, recognizing the potential to lower costs, increase productivity and safety, make new product offerings possible, and provide actionable business insights. Interestingly, only a few business leaders are motivated by potential labour force reductions or risky “moonshots.” Rather, 78% of leaders surveyed hope to use AI technology to transform existing operations.


When robots meet mobility

Unlike the sophisticated — and sometimes even witty — robots seen in movies or TV shows, most present-day robots are programmable machines designed to accomplish mundane tasks in the physical world. They are tools, helpers, and collaborators, and are controlled by either a computer, a human operator or, increasingly, by an AI system that combines computing power with human expertise.

Today’s robots are good at repetitive industrial tasks: moving materials on assembly lines, welding, bolting, painting, assembly, loading, and so on. They do good work in controlled environments with predictable conditions that don’t change much. Simple autonomous robots can accomplish ‘basic’ tasks like vacuuming the home or cleaning a swimming pool, but they’re still not making important decisions.

For a robot to move, it requires an entirely different order of awareness. This is especially true if the system is expected to be autonomous. Moving through space and time, whether in a factory, a freeway, or on the surface of Mars, necessitates situational awareness. The system must be able to sense where it is in relation to otherness, be that physical objects, other moving vehicles, or people. “Safety first” applies at every step.

On top of this, atmospheric conditions — weather, moisture, wind, and access to solar energy — must all be considered in the context of the overall mission, not just the task at hand. For self-driving cars, the primary mission is to transport the passenger from point A to point B. The challenge is knowing when to react to changing or dangerous conditions, even if it means deviating from the primary mission.


Proximity to humans raises the stakes

Robots that collaborate with people in the workplace are sometimes known as ‘cobots’. Their duty is to operate alongside humans, working together to complete tasks. Some cobots lift heavy loads, while more sophisticated units combine their sensory capabilities with the analysis and knowledge afforded by AI. Others, like surgical systems, work at microscopic scale (and require human control and oversight in semi-autonomous modes rather than full autonomy).

The robotic system helps the human accomplish goals by doing work that may be dangerous or difficult for the person. Over time, as humans successfully collaborate with an intelligent robot, they can then trust it to do more autonomously.


Cognitive AI — intelligence at the point of work


Cognitive AI is not about chatbots, talking virtual assistants, or playing chess against a machine. It’s about powering the next generation of intelligent commercial and industrial edge devices, making it possible to apply them in scenarios that we can only dream about right now. It’s all about the ability to reason and understand and explain their results.


As discussed earlier, most companies producing AI solutions today focus on improving existing business or industrial processes, rather than undertaking more ambitious and risky projects. These narrowly focused, one-off applications are only the first steps toward utilizing AI to its full potential. They do one thing well, but lack the awareness, communication, and executive functions of systems that understand their ‘big picture context’ in the organization and the world. As such, when faced with either unfamiliar situations or situations where data is missing or flawed, they break.

This is where Cognitive AI comes in. Cognitive AI agents are insightful advisors with powerful reasoning engines that can be consulted by people to solve complex problems. Like humans, they are able to fill in these knowledge gaps — understanding a situation based on either prior knowledge or by amalgamating fragmented evidence into a mental model. These agents leverage encoded human expertise (preserving and democratizing legacy institutional knowledge) and pyramids of data to accelerate decision-making with precision and foresight. Cognitive AI systems help people solve previously unsolvable problems and creates business opportunities not previously perceived.

The logical evolutionary path for cognitive AI leads us to “hive mind” systems, wherein multiple cognitive agents designed to handle specific tasks can be connected to share insights across company silos. This would create ‘societies of intelligence’ that operate intelligently and collaboratively. In the case of a failure in one system, the other agents can pick up the slack.

In this data-driven network, hive-mind intelligence can amplify the knowledge, wisdom, and intuitions of human populations, creating an ‘Artificial Expert’ with executive functions. It could answer questions, make predictions, and generate insights at the enterprise level. A cognitive corporation could be the result.


Futuristic applications of Cognitive AI

The future of AI involves advanced cognitive systems capable of doing what machine learning systems can’t. They will intelligently and fluently interact with human experts, providing them with articulate explanations and answers, even at the edge of the network or in robotic devices. Across the board, people will see and work with systems endowed with rare and valuable intelligence. For example:

Cognitive artificial intelligence — truly intelligent symbolic AI software with bio-inspired, human-like reasoning — will take automation technologies to the next level and enable enterprises to fully utilize their investments in advanced technology. Using cognitive AI, robots can work together to not only analyze time-sensitive data at the point of origin, but also diagnose and solve problems in real-time.

By Mark James, CTO of Beyond Limits

Next time: Part two, Beyond Limits CTO Mark James describes how cognitive intelligence moves to the extreme edge, and provides cautionary guidance for humans to remain in control of artificial intelligence as it grows in power and capability.

Images created by Beyond Limits — Jessica Simm, Creative Producer.

Originally published at on March 21, 2019.

14 March 2019
Author: Jess Young
Originally published on The London Economic

Some see AI as a substitute for human achievement and some view it as a tool to help people produce their best work. Beyond Limits CEO, AJ Abdallat, holds the latter view.
“AI is a tool that no forward-thinking business can afford to ignore,” Abdallat stated. “In the future, humans will be working with AI to invent and improve products, processes and procedures.”
In 2017, a similar point of view prompted BP Ventures, the technology investment arm of British Petroleum, to invest $20 million in Beyond Limits to assist BP decision-makers. The investment facilitated autonomous pipeline inspection and helped BP monitor the health and maintenance of the company’s wells. Beyond Limits’ technology also enabled BP to share information that was previously limited to a few specialized individuals throughout its entire organization.
Beyond Limits’ technology has sprung from the NASA space program at Caltech’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which used symbolic AI to give the “Curiosity” space rover human-like reasoning for its 2012 mission to Mars. This enabled the rover to ingest, process and act on millions of manual pages that a human being couldn’t have hoped to memorize in the necessary timeframe. In 2014, Abdallat cofounded Beyond Limits with company CTO Mark James to take AI to the next level. The company’s breakthrough AI technology has made it the smart choice for subsurface oil and gas exploration and production, as well as the energy, fintech, healthcare and logistics industries. A 2018 winner of a Silver Stevie® Award and an AI Tech Trailblazers Award, Beyond Limits has been covered in Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur, ZDNet, the Financial Times, the International Business Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Today, Beyond Limits, in partnership with BP, is intent on creating AI founded on physics. Rather than creating systems based on nonadaptive analytics and data that could change in real time, Beyond Limits’ engineers and scientists design systems that have the capacity to adapt to ever-changing, often harsh environments, such as space, the ocean, and the desert. This technology goes beyond AI to what Beyond Limits calls “cognitive intelligence,” the ability of a machine to not only explain what’s happening in real time but also how to deal with it. Instead of being a passive narrator, the technology becomes an active participant, predicting and suggesting future courses of action and even explaining how it reached its conclusion. According to Abdallat, cognitive intelligence is the tip of a pyramid built from the ground up on data analytics, data science, and deep learning.
As recently as November 2018, Beyond Limits was able to promote its vision for the future of energy at the Oil & Gas Council’s World Energy Capital Assembly (WECA) in London, where Abdallat gave a keynote address on digitalization. Entitled, “Is The Oil and Gas Sector Keeping Up?”, the speech explored the future of energy assisted by AI. Given that WECA’s purpose is to discuss the point at which finance and energy intersect, Beyond Limits welcomed the opportunity to share its expertise on how cognitive AI can assist both industries for the better.
Statista reveals that the largest final energy consumers to date are the industrial sectors of agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and mining. In 2017, the US used almost 27.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 913.3 million metric tons of oil, making it the world’s largest consumer of both commodities. Worldwide interest in renewable energy is also on the rise, with many forward-looking companies investing in long-term strategies to reduce carbon emissions.
Within the oil and gas industry, Beyond Limits is working with BP to improve the industry infrastructure with superior reservoir management technology that uses static and dynamic observations in a single integrated model. Other renovations include a deep-water reservoir drilling target selector and several advisors for refining, predicting pipeline corrosion, preventing sand production, and supporting accurately blended feedstock. Among other things, this will help reduce the risks associated with human bias and poor judgment.
“Fulfilling the promise and massive potential of artificial intelligence will require human-like reasoning, far beyond what most AI systems can currently provide,” concludes Abdallat. “Beyond Limits has taken the proven AI used in deep space, and commercialized it for use in solving our world’s most pressing problems.”


4 March 2019
Author: Hasan Chowdhury
Originally posted on 2/21/2019 on The Telegraph.

The Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG), a sprawling complex of offshore oil fields 60 miles off Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, is causing somewhat of a headache for BP’s Head of Technology.

“We have huge production in Azerbaijan of wells that are quite prone to producing sand, and sand if it’s produced in high quantities from our oil wells can do damage to the metalwork and also choke back the production,” says David Eyton, BP’s Head of Technology.

“The net result of all that is we produce thousands [more] barrels a day than we otherwise would be able to do because we can intelligently manage the integrity of that operation,” says Eyton.

The ACG, which pumps out an average of 584,000 barrels of oil per day, is a prized asset for BP, and any hold-ups could cost the company dearly. But the man leading BP’s technology revolution thinks he has a solution: artificial intelligence (AI).

Currently, BP – a company with 74,000 employees – has just “one particular expert” with the skills to reduce sand in oil production at ACG.  Eyton realizes there are some significant problems with depending on a single engineer.

Instead, the energy giant is working to harness the expert’s knowledge by “codifying” it into a system built by Beyond Limits, a US-based AI company that BP’s investment arm took a $20m stake in back in 2017.

Want to read more? Download the full Telegraph piece here.

22 February 2019
Author: AJ Abdallat, CEO Beyond Limits
Originally posted on 


One of the challenges of using artificial intelligence solutions in the enterprise is that the technology operates in what is commonly referred to as a black box. Often, artificial intelligence (AI) applications employ neural networks that produce results using algorithms with a complexity level that only computers can make sense of. In other instances, AI vendors will not reveal how their AI works. In either case, when conventional AI produces a decision, human end users don’t know how it arrived at its conclusions.

This black box can pose a significant obstacle. Even though a computer is processing the information, and the computer is making a recommendation, the computer does not have the final say. That responsibility falls on a human decision maker, and this person is held responsible for any negative consequences. In many current use cases of AI, this isn’t a major concern, as the potential fallout from a “wrong” decision is likely very low.

However, as AI applications have expanded, machines are being tasked with making decisions where millions of dollars — or even human health and safety — are on the line. In highly regulated, high-risk/high-value industries, there’s simply too much at stake to trust the decisions of a machine at face value, with no understanding of a machine’s reasoning or the potential risks associated with a machine’s recommendations. These enterprises are increasingly demanding explainable AI (XAI).

The AI industry has taken notice. XAI was the subject of a symposium at the 2017 Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), and DARPA has invested in a research project to explore explainability.


Beyond The Black Box: Cognitive AI


Leading cognitive artificial intelligence provider recognized by the 2019 Built In LA’s Best Places to Work list

08 February 2019
Glendale, CA


Beyond Limits, a leading artificial intelligence engineering company, has announced that Built In LA has named Beyond Limits to its 2019 Best Places to Work list. The award list recognizes businesses that exceed expectations by providing employees with a stimulating and supportive workplace.

“We are proud to be recognized in Built In LA’s Best Places to Work list. At Beyond Limits we are strongly committed to fostering a supportive work environment that acknowledges each team player and helps them succeed,” said AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond Limits. “Built In’s recognition is a testament to our continuous efforts to create an inclusive, diverse and successful workplace. We welcome the opportunity to support talented people of all genders, cultures and backgrounds with STEM skills.”

Built In is a tech platform that unites people and companies around their shared passion for tech and the universal need for purpose. The audience of sought-after candidates, the most coveted in tech, rely on Built In to connect with their local community and find their professional purpose. Built In’s Best Places to Work list rates companies algorithmically based on compensation and employer benefits, such as health and wellness, financial planning and stability, flexible work environment, professional and social impact, and company perks and discounts.
Founded in 2014, Beyond Limits is a full-stack artificial intelligence engineering company creating advanced software solutions that go beyond conventional AI.

The company’s reputation for innovation and explosive growth has made it a top destination for some of the sharpest minds in AI. In 2018, they launched “Beyonders”, their new internship program to accelerate the development of new leaders in cognitive AI. Beyonders dive deep into an immersive program that gives them the unique opportunity to work directly with the only AI company with software technology developed for space missions. Beyond Limits also participated at the Wonder Women Tech National Conference 2018. The company collaborated with Wonder Women Tech to help raise awareness for workplace diversity and inclusion. Beyond Limits’ commitment to diversity has also included recruiting and networking events hosted by WomenHack LA and Reed Smith’s Diversity Summit.

Beyond Limits was also selected as a Silver Stevie® Award Winner in the 2018 American Business Awards®, a winner for the Tech Trailblazers Award in the category of artificial intelligence and a nominee for the 2018 Edison Awards. Beyond Limits has been covered in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur, ZDNet and the International Business Times. The company closed a Series B with BP Ventures in mid-2017 for $20 million, and since then has rapidly expanded staffing with some of the most talented minds in the industry.

30 December 2018
Author: Fotis Georgiadis
Originally featured on Authority Magazine via Medium.
Read the original interview here.

“AI will be one of the most disruptive and productive advances in computer science the world has seen. It is poised to have a transformative effect on consumer, enterprise, industrial, and government markets around the world. While there are certainly obstacles to overcome, consumers believe that AI has the potential to assist in medical breakthroughs, improving health and safety, democratize costly services, elevate poor customer service, and even free up an overburdened workforce.” – AJ Abdallat, Beyond Limits CEO & Co-Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing AJ Abdallat, CEO and co-founder of Beyond Limits, a pioneering AI company with a unique legacy from the US space program.
 As CEO of Beyond Limits, he’s building what he believes is the “most disruptive technology since electricity and the internet”: Artificial Intelligence. AI typically involves a system or machine performing functions a casual observer would view as intelligent.
Mr. Abdallat is a serial entrepreneur with decades years of experience building technology startups in AI, cognitive reasoning, and smart sensors. He founded Beyond Limits in 2014 to bring technologies from Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab that have been proven in space missions and transform them into advanced AI solutions to solve challenging problems for companies on Earth.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Starting in 1998, Dr. Carl Kukkonen and I started working with Caltech, which manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA. With the support of Caltech president, Dr. David Baltimore, we set on a course to commercialize technologies developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the space program, including smart sensors and artificial intelligence projects. That was the beginning. I’ve founded several companies to bring NASA/JPL space innovations to market, the latest of which is Beyond Limits. We are an artificial intelligence company with unique IP and unparalleled technology portfolio.
This is software that’s been tested and proven in the most challenging conditions imaginable. And we are blessed to be in a position to adapt this brilliant technology for commercial use. But we take it beyond that, inventing new cognitive reasoning systems to help companies on Earth to transform their businesses and industrial operations.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Top medical minds join forces with leading cognitive AI provider to guide artificial intelligence powered innovation for the healthcare industry

“The healthcare industry is eager for AI innovations to help medical professionals care for people,” says AJ Abdallat, Beyond Limits CEO. “With the guidance of our esteemed advisory board, we are ready to contribute advanced technology solutions for this all-important mission.”
Beyond Limits Healthcare Advisory Board

Dr. Wael Barsoum, CEO and President, Cleveland Clinic Florida Region, Cleveland Clinic Board of Governors Member, Fellow of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the AAOS.

Dr. Bala Manian, successful Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur, founder of multiple companies including ReaMetrix, Quantum Dot Corp., SurroMed, Biometric Imaging, Lumisys, and Molecular Dynamics.

Dr. Sanjiv Narayan, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University; Cardiologist, Bioengineer, Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Founder of several medical technology startups. In addition to his MD, Dr. Narayan holds an MSc in Computer Science.

Dr. Manish Kohli, Global Board Chair and Fellow, HIMSS; Former CMIO and Head of Healthcare Informatics, Dubai Health Care City/ University Hospital (Dubai), CMIO, Cleveland Clinic (Abu Dhabi), CMIO, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (Baltimore); Board Certified – Clinical Informatics, Family Medicine. Member, Standards Advisory Panel, Joint Commission International (JCI)

Dr. Steven Tucker, Preventive Medical Oncologist & Founder of Singapore-based group practice, Tucker Medical; Chief Medical Officer at insurtech start-up, CXA Group; and Director of Oncology & Genomics at MetLife Asia.

Dr. Douglas Johnston, Program Director for Thoracic Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Committee Member, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Cleveland Clinic Accountable Care Organization Board Member.

“We are honored to have the benefit of six extremely knowledgeable healthcare industry experts on our team,” says Dr. Manikanda Arunachalam, MD, Beyond Limits Head of Healthcare and SVP Corporate Development & Investments. “This is a world class team that fully understands the power that Beyond Limits cognitive AI can apply to solve difficult healthcare problems.”
Beyond Limits builds cognitive AI systems that interpret vast amounts of data from disparate sources to produce actionable information. For example, historical patient data, lab results, chart notes, real-time sensor monitoring, evidence-based clinical guidelines, and drug interactions, etc., can be interpreted by the system to better understand and personalize treatment suggestions.
Because medical decisions are important and frequently expensive, an AI system must be able to explain its thought process and conclusions. Unlike conventional “black box” approaches like machine learning, deep learning or neural networks that cannot explain their reasoning, Beyond Limits cognitive AI delivers clear explanations of its cognitive reasoning in transparent, evidence-based audit trails, including risk and uncertainties.
Beyond Limits cognitive AI technology combines conventional numeric AI with advanced symbolic logic for human-like reasoning to improve insights, inform decision-making, and reduce risk at the point of care. The company’s technology is considered to be a cognitive leap beyond conventional AI to a human-like ability to perceive, understand, correlate, learn, teach, reason and solve problems faster than existing AI solutions.

Beyond Limits CEO, AJ Abdallat was recently interviewed by the Oil & Gas Council in anticipation of his keynote address at the World Energy Capital Assembly. The 10th World Energy Capital Assembly is held from December 3-4, 2018 in London, UK and is Europe’s largest gathering of international energy executives, investors, and financiers. AJ Abdallat will also join a panel of influential leaders in the industry to discuss the topic of  “Digitalization 70 – is the Oil & Gas Sector keeping up?” Read Full Article here

Can you tell us about your journey that ended up in CEO of Beyond Limits?
I started in 1998 working with Caltech, which manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is a NASA center. We wanted to commercialize technologies that were developed for the space program, including smart sensors and artificial intelligence. Since then, I have founded several companies to bring innovative NASA/JPL space technology to market, the latest of which is Beyond Limits, which was launched in 2014 and focuses on Artificial Intelligence, specifically human-like reasoning.
The AI solutions developed by Beyond Limits magnify human talent, enabling people to apply their attention, experience, and their passions to solving problems that truly matter. We focus on solving big problems for large scale industries that touch millions of people.
In energy, we’re partnering with a giant energy production company. We’re trying to help them increase and expand all production with mature subsurface reservoirs. Ultimately the goal is to provide a cognitive ability, so they can understand where to drill next. This technology is going to lower the cost of production. It’s going to make oil and gas less expensive. It’s going to help everyone.
What, in your view, has been the key to Beyond Limits’ success?
Exploring space is about being able to handle the unknown. Real-world, industrial-grade AI needs to do the same to handle business issues at scale, across different industries — that’s exactly what we’re doing at Beyond Limits.
Our approach goes beyond conventional AI by bringing human-like reasoning and cognitive reasoning to the equation and by explaining the rationale and evidence behind the recommended course of action. Conventional AI systems are what we refer to as black box implementations, where systems are trained based on data, but cannot explain how they got the answer. At Beyond Limits we can explain how we got the answer because our systems provide an audit trail that justifies the rationale and provides evidence for the answer.
Beyond Limits’ cognitive Intelligence has strong roots in bio-inspired algorithms, which mimics the functions of the human brain. Our systems are both educated and trained using captured data. But unlike most of the competition, our systems are also educated by facts, situational awareness, and human knowledge. This means we can solve problems that neural nets cannot, especially when the data is sparse or unreliable.
Digitalisation has been a hot topic for many years but seems to have lower penetration in the oil and gas industry versus other industries – do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?
Oil and gas companies were pioneers in leveraging the first digital age in 1980’s making use of seismic analysis to boost operational efficiencies. Unfortunately, they have not fully taken advantage of the second digital revolution. Digital readiness will be a key factor for organization to take advantage of advancement in technologies and AI to significantly boost productivity and performance. Companies that will make their organization more digital will have a huge advantage.
What can the Oil & Gas industry and those that finance, and invest in, the industry learn from other industries that you have worked in?
Beyond Limits is used to dealing with space where even when things go wrong, or data is missing, you need systems that can think through the situation and come up with a solution, so the mission can continue. For Oil & Gas explorers with remote installations in the North Sea, the Arctic circle, or in the middle of the desert, circumstances are similarly unpredictable.
AI has been used to develop and advance numerous fields and industries, but we need to go beyond conventional AI in industries such as Oil & Gas exploration where there could be sparse or unreliable data. Cognitive intelligence goes beyond conventional AI by bringing human-like reasoning and cognitive reasoning to the equation. Industries like Oil & Gas should be using cognitive intelligence like Beyond Limits solutions which utilize human knowledge to learn context and meaning so they can make good recommendations to people for faster, better, decision-making that reduces risk and lowers production costs.
What will the market’s best performing companies of tomorrow look like?
The best performing companies of tomorrow will embrace digitalization. Gartner predicts AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020. The question is no longer whether AI will fundamentally change the workplace. It’s happening. The true question is how companies can successfully use technologies and AI in ways that enables the human workforce, helping to make humans faster, more efficient and more productive.

The Tech Tribune staff has compiled the very best tech startups in Glendale, California. In doing their research, they considered several factors including but not limited to:
1. Revenue Potential
2. Leadership Team
3. Brand/Product Traction
4. Competitive Landscape
Additionally, all companies must be independent (un-acquired), privately owned, at most 10 years old, and have received at least one round of funding in order to qualify.
Click here to see the full list.

Read full article from Total Prestige here.

AJ Abdallat is a serial entrepreneur. He loves to create and the businesses he puts his hands on tend to succeed. Abdallat’s latest company is Beyond Limits, a leading developer of advanced artificial intelligence solutions and leading the way in developing the technology in innovative ways. Abdallat took over the CEO reins of Beyond Limits in 2014. During his time with the company, the entrepreneur has pushed the brand to tackle industrial and enterprise challenges.

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Abdallat has been working with dynamic companies since 1988 as co-founder or CEO of several Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) startups. With a long track record in AI, Abdallat hopes to steer Beyond Limits — and the world — into a future that finally fulfills the promises of technology.

Please tell us how corporations and industries can benefit from Beyond Limits?
Beyond Limits is an AI company, but we are taking a different approach to AI. Today’s artificial intelligence market is not easy to quantify. Besides the lack of consensus on a coherent definition for “artificial intelligence” as a term, the field’s nascent stage of development makes it difficult to carve out silos or hard barriers of where one industry or application ends, and another begins. What makes us unique is our approach goes beyond conventional AI by bringing human-like reasoning and cognitive reasoning to the equation. AI enable companies to grapple with gargantuan amounts of data and do diagnostic and prognostic analysis to predict what’s going to happen and what should happen. AI’s good at that. Our systems go beyond conventional AI by explaining the rationale and evidence behind the recommended course of action.
How did your professional background prepare you for your current position?
I worked for both large and startup companies. Learned a great deal from both environments. I learned about prioritizing and focusing on what’s really important. How to effectively manage teams by setting a clear mission and directions that you rally your team around. Success does not come true in one day, years of hard work is needed.
Please tell us how the company began and what some of the highlights have been?
In 1998, Dr. Carl Kukkonen and I started working with Caltech, which manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA. With the support of Caltech president, Dr. David Baltimore, we set on a course to commercialize technologies that were developed for the space program. One example was a technology called the tunable diode laser which was developed to accurately detect water vapor on the surface of Mars. Mars has a very harsh and unforgiving environment. We created a company to apply our technology to the energy industry, because moisture is a big contaminant for natural gas pipelines. The company became very successful and a leader in its field. Now, I am focusing on our latest company, Beyond Limits, which focuses on Artificial Intelligence and specifically human-like reasoning.
Currently Beyond Limits focuses on three verticals. In energy, we’re partnering with a giant energy production company. We’re trying to help them increase and expand all production with mature subsurface reservoirs. Ultimately the goal is to deliver a cognitive ability, so they can understand what to drill next. That’s going to lower the cost of production. It’s going to make oil and gas less expensive. It’s going to help everyone.
We’re working with healthcare providers to accurately diagnose patient conditions with a high degree of confidence. Eventually that will save lives and produce a more efficient system. We’re also working with major financial institutions on applying cognitive reasoning to Fintech. One of the big highlights for me is that we’ve proved that our cognitive approach works for very tough and demanding industrial applications. What we said we could do, we did. In one opportunity, we were the fourth AI company to be engaged. But where the others hadn’t panned out, we won the business and proved that our methods work. We won the opportunity, but more than that, the ultimate compliment was when our customer became our strategic investor.
What really sets Beyond Limits apart from competitors?
A lot of things set us apart. Firstly, we focus on solving big problems for large scale industries that matter. That touch millions of people. We’re not interested in serving up pizza ads on your phone or beating the Jeopardy champion. Maybe it’s our origins in the space program, but we tend to specialize in solving complex problems in high risk environments where the mission can’t fail.
Secondly, unlike the conventional machine learning, neural networks, and deep learning techniques that are gaining traction today, we take a different approach. We use all those techniques, but we add cognitive reasoning. Much of the cognitive intelligence capability and technologies created at Beyond Limits has deep roots in what we call bio-inspired algorithms. They are designed to imitate the functions of a human brain. It allows to do things like deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning. Really the ability to do human like reasoning.
Thirdly, our systems understand situational awareness, or context. You can show a machine learning system a thousand pictures of a chair, and it can be trained to be pretty good at identifying a chair. But it will never know what a chair is for, or why a human wants to sit down, or what is a good chair compared to a bad chair. Our systems utilize human knowledge to learn context and meaning, so they can make good recommendations to people for faster, better, decision-making, and reduce risk.
One more thing. Conventional AI systems are what we refer to as black box implementations, where systems are trained based on data, but cannot explain how they got the answer. That bothers me. At Beyond Limits, we’re taking a different approach where we can explain how we got the answer. Our systems provide an audit trail that explains the rationale and evidence for the answer. I think establishing trust is important. In industries where the stakes are high, like medicine, energy, finance, people need accurate information. We need to have the doctors, engineers, and other professionals understand how they got the answer and provide them with that audit trail.
Abdallat has his eyes on growth and plans to take Beyond Limits to other areas around the world. Innovation is the company’s calling card and it has put it on the forefront of AI technology. Abdallat sees new offices and an expansion of business on the horizon along with pushing the boundaries of technology.
AJ, what’s next for Beyond Limits?
Well, there are two parts to that. One is growth. We’re going to expand on our global footprint. We’re going to open more offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Gulf. We’re establishing collaborative and research collaborations with many research universities around the world, and we have many talented scientists from NASA JPL. So, expanding the global footprint is going to be a key for us.
The other one is innovation. That’s really our DNA and the trend you’re going to see in 2018 and beyond is pushing intelligence to the edge. You’re going to see Beyond Limits introducing the first cognitive/symbolic AI chip. We’re excited about that. This creates tremendous opportunities for delivering cognitive solutions to locations where previously it was impossible. We’re going to complement the existing machine learning and deep learning capabilities that some companies are introducing in 2018 with our cognitive AI chip. We’re looking forward to that.
Instinct versus expertise: Which is more important?
I would say it depends on what phase you’re in. Expertise is always important, but there’s something to be said for instinct. I pay attention to what I describe as a gut feeling. If I’m about 80% it’s good. When it goes down to 50%, I’m going to re-evaluate my strategy. It doesn’t mean that I’m so good at predicting things, but I think after 20 years you start developing a great BS detector. I think for an entrepreneur this is important.
There was one time where I trusted my instincts over experience and it worked out well. We had started discussions with a major energy company, and the price of oil at the time was at $28. I remember talking to a VC about the company, and he didn’t understand why we would go after oil and gas business when the price of oil was so low. But I had a good feeling about it and believed in it. I felt if we can turn the situation around, great things can happen. I’m not going to tell you I predicted they would also invest in the company, because I really had no clue. But I trusted my feeling that they would be a good customer. Indeed, this customer became an outstanding strategic partner for us.
What is the most challenging part of your work?

From a human capital point view — attracting talent, retaining talent and building an effective team that can row in the same direction.
From a business point of view — navigating the business landscape very carefully by going after the right opportunity at the right time and taking calculated risks.
What was your most rewarding professional experience?
Taking our unique approach to AI by unifying both the Numeric — machine learning & deep learning — with the Symbolic side to create cognitive reasoning capability. Our systems are both educated and trained which allows us to handle complex industrial problems where human-like intuition for actionable intelligence is required. I am proud to say with this approach, we were able to demonstrate cognitive intelligence and win many opportunities including a global top 10 company.
While many people fear AI and other forms of technology, Abdallat stresses people shouldn’t be frightened. AI will create new jobs and opportunities for people around the world. As technology evolves, it gives people the chance to evolve with it.
Globally, how do you see the future of AI developing?
One of the misconceptions about AI, really, the clichés about conventional AI, is that some people feel machines are going to be taking our jobs. In reality, we are automating what I consider to be repetitive or dangerous tasks. Gartner did a report in 2017 where they forecasted that by 2020 artificial intelligence will automate about 1.8 million jobs. But it also forecasted that by 2020 AI is going to create 2.3 million jobs. So, the net gain is going to be about 500,000 jobs.
We at Beyond Limit believe that we are going to create a healthy collaboration between man and machine with trust, to help magnify human talent and amplify human talent. Which is going to end up creating more opportunities and more job for humans.
What’s a day in your life like?
It’s pretty simple. I get up, take a shower, feed the cats, have a cup of tea, drive to work, and think. Then I work on progress at Beyond Limits improving today from the day before. If we can continuously advance the cause and improve progress on a daily basis, we will succeed. We are at an exciting stage at Beyond Limits right now. We’re scaling up, growing, getting into production. We’re raising our C-round financing, and it’s all-consuming.
What makes you smile?
My kids. I am very proud of them.
What scares you?
Well, there are things that you can control and there are some things beyond your control. I truly believe right now there is an opportunity for us at Beyond Limits to take a leadership role in terms of next generation AI. What really scares me is what every CEO worries about at a certain phase: execution. We have a window of opportunity and need to execute to hit the mark. If you really think about it, there’s the example of Yahoo and Google. Google executed, Yahoo didn’t. I mean Yahoo had the technology, they actually had the market and brand name, but they didn’t execute.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I know I am being redundant here. Again, my kids, I’m proud of my kids. I am also, proud of Beyond Limits and my Beyond Limits family. At Beyond Limits we are carrying the flag for a new and different approach to AI.
What is your secret talent?
To build a great company, you need an outstanding team around you. Getting people to believe in your vision, values and goals is very essential. Maintaining that for the long haul is a proven recipe for success!
Which historical figure do you most admire?
I am a big fan of technology pioneers and inventors. I like many, but two I feel deserve more credit. Nikola Tesla and Edwin Armstrong. Thomas Edison gets credit for popularizing electricity, but it was Tesla’s invention that made it possible for everyone to access electricity. Second is Edwin Armstrong. He was the guy who invented FM radio. Armstrong was a brilliant engineer. Very analytical and intuitive. He didn’t shy away from complex and impossible problems. His ideas made significant technology advancements for radio and television. He also didn’t compromise.
Like many serial entrepreneurs, Abdallat focuses much of his attention on building and maintaining thriving businesses. Abdallat does have a great interest in history and loves to read about the American Civil War and technology when he has free time.
Do you have any hobbies?
No hobbies other than creating and building companies. But I am a big history buff. I would say history is of great interest to me. I am not biased to any specific period or region. By the way, I love the Civil War, I’m into that specific period. But I love history in general. I am very interested in the history of technology and AI. I find it fascinating that machine learning was invented in 1959. So, it’s been around for a while, but now it’s relevant to business because of the development of huge data sets and inexpensive computing power. Looking back and studying why and what happened is fascinating to me.
What are you never without?
Tea. I am more of a tea drinker than coffee. I like black tea. I like tea with mint. Also, with lemon and honey.
What advice would you give to anyone starting a new business?
I like this question. I would say it goes back to do what you believe in. Don’t let others influence you. Go with your gut feeling and instinct. It’s ok to go out of your comfort zone, but stay true to your vision and your values. I’m very passionate about technology in general. I’m very passionate about AI. I think AI is the most constructive force in computer science. I love being an entrepreneur. I feel I’m blessed to work in an environment where we can have significant and major impact on humanity.
Beyond Limits is a unique AI company, with proud Caltech/JPL heritage in our leadership team, and advanced technology developed for the NASA space program. Founded in 2014, Beyond Limits is transforming proven technologies from Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab into advanced AI solutions, hardened to industrial strength, and put to work for forward-looking companies on earth. Beyond Limits leverages this unparalleled innovation portfolio, along with the company’s breakthrough cognitive technology, to go beyond conventional AI, blending deep learning and machine learning tools together with symbolic AIs that emulate human reasoning. For more information, please visit
By Drew Farmer

Read full article from Total Prestige here.