Kevin Price recently interviewed the CEO of Beyond Limits, AJ Abdallat. They talked about the beginnings of Beyond Limits, Cognitive Intelligence and the future of AI.

Beyond Limits is featured by The Tech Tribune as one of the best tech startups in Glendale.

The Tech Tribune staff has compiled the very best tech startups in Glendale, California. In doing our research, we 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.

BP Technology Outlook 2018

“Intelligence is the most powerful and precious resource in existence, but there are countless untapped opportunities for intelligence to make the world a better place. The key is actionable intelligence – which could be harnessed by our digital world where everything can potentially be connected to generate data.”

Intelligence. In its varied forms, 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. Beyond recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enable it to win games and drive cars, there are countless opportunities for intelligence to help make the world a better place. One such area is energy, including the modernization of the oil and gas industry. This is a global landscape rich in opportunities for protection of the environment, more efficient discovery of energy sources, workplace safety, plus diagnostics for more informed decision-making.

We live in a digital world where everything can potentially be connected. The key is actionable intelligence – data that’s been analyzed to aid human decision-making. One important strategy is embedding intelligence so, decisions can be made at the sensor rather than “phoning home” to headquarters. Imagine an intelligence sensor on a drill bit that can manage its residual lifespan, avoiding the costly practice of pulling it up for inspection just because its Mean Time Between Failure rating (MTBF) says so.

Downstream, cognitive AI is now being applied to track tankers to determine when they leave port, where they’re going, and how much petroleum or LNG they are transporting. Predicting what is being shipped, plus refinery destination and arrival times, will help traders make smarter decisions.

Removing friction from port scheduling operations requires a rare form of machine intelligence called cognitive intelligence (or human-like reasoning). This involved the fusion of the key cognitive capabilities of multi-agent scheduling with reactive recovery, asset management, rule compliance, diagnostics, and prognostics to ensure seamless autonomous operation.
My final prediction is about a development which I feel will become of increasing importance: embedding intelligence in silicon. While the world may think of AI running on mammoth computers, as in sci-fi movies, that approach is becoming a thing of the past. In the near future you will see the emergence of true intelligence being deployed in tiny blocks of silicon – even more disruptive than the transition from tubes to microelectronics.

Our wider vision of AI for the future of energy includes cognitive systems that intelligently and fluently interact with human experts and provide articulate explanations and answers. Across the board, you will see, and work with, systems endowed with rare and valuable intelligence.

See full article here:



March 2018
Author: CIO Review


Beyond Limits named by CIO Review as one of the 50 most promising companies at the forefront of providing FinTech solutions and impacting the marketplace.



I hired a car to drive from San Francisco to Monterey for GCV’s summit earlier this year. This London-based Brit enjoyed the sun, the views, singing along with the audio system, and the general Californian vibe. I enjoy driving, particularly in southern California. I hired a car to drive from San Francisco to Monterey for GCV’s summit earlier this year. This London-based Brit enjoyed the sun, the views, singing along with the audio system, and the general Californian vibe. I enjoy driving, particularly in southern California.
By way of contrast, Meghan Sharp, the San Francisco-based managing director of BP Ventures, the venturing unit of the energy major, took an Uber to the summit and did three conference calls in the two-and-a-half-hour journey. (When I say “an Uber” here and below I don’t necessarily mean the car service of that name; I simply mean a car service enabled by a smart phone).
Like many I speak to in the venture business these days, Meghan travels so much that she’s stopped driving. “For me, the opportunity cost of driving is just too high. It doesn’t make sense to be behind the wheel when I could be working,” she explains. “I also save money by not owning a car – I’ve done the math.”
Meghan is also happy to rely on Uber to transport her 83-year-old mother to the Dallas Ft. Worth airport to visit her in San Francisco. “This type of chauffeur service is a luxury that until very recently was only available to the very rich,” she says.  Although she draws the line at using Uber to transport her children to school (as some San Franciscans do), she predicts that a business model that fuses child care with Uber could work. (How about ‘Kinder-Uber’? You heard it here first).
The more you travel, the less you want to drive; the less you drive; the more work you can do and the more money you save; the readiness to trust a driver you’ve never met before and sit in an ‘impersonal’ car you’ve never sat in before: as such truths dawn, they are rapidly and thoroughly disrupting travel and the several industries that depend on it, including BP’s main business, energy.
In the interview below, Meghan explains some of the ways in which BP is using venturing to participate in this disruption and find new business models which draw on and build on BP strengths. “For example, BP has all this real estate and all these gas stations. How are you going to monetise that?” she asks. “We can explore adding electric vehicle charging facilities, for example” she answers. BP is also considering the shift to autonomous vehicles (AV), partly through investing in artificial intelligence (AI). “With AV, there’s a huge opportunity to increase safety. We have to get it right and AI is going to play a huge piece.”
BP is increasing its commitment to lower carbon and digital businesses through its Alternative Energy business and across five focus areas to $500m per year.  “I don’t think there’s a bubble. I think it’s a real trend,” says Meghan.
She cites two California-based venture investments that are supporting the parent company’s strategic shift to electric and autonomous mobility.
FreeWire, a manufacturer of mobile rapid charging systems for electric vehicles, received $5m earlier this year from BP, which will trial its technology at selected retail sites in the UK and Europe. “BP has the ability to help FreeWire scale,” says Meghan. “It should be a mutually beneficial relationship.” BP’s investment was part of a $13.33 million Series A1 venture funding, which was led by Stanley Ventures, the venturing subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, the US power tool business.
In the summer of 2017, BP was the sole investor in the $20m Series B round of Beyond Limits, an AI and cognitive computing company, which is commercialising software from NASA, the US space agency, and the US Department of Defence (software that was used in the Mars Rover exploration). “Beyond Limits is genuinely cognitive. It’s not just deep learning,” says Meghan. “It is looking at mobility with BP and other partners.”
Meghan, what do you drive?
I rarely drive. I use Uber or Lyft.  And it’s changed my life, professionally and personally. My working days starts on the phone in an Uber. At BP we have a strict policy that you can’t be on the phone while driving. But there’s no way I’m going to spend an hour driving to work in the morning. I need to catch up with Europe and the East Coast, which means I’m on the phone. So, I get an Uber every day. (And by the way, this is at my own expense). On the personal side, we’ve been able to use curb-side check in at the airport, and Uber and competing services to very conveniently, safely and inexpensively transport my mother to come and see us in San Francisco. She lives in a different city and there’s no way this would be possible without the innovation in travel we’ve seen in recent years.
So, there’s a personal as well as a professional commitment to venturing in new mobility technologies? 
Yes. I’ve embraced the new model of transport.  Or maybe it’s embraced me. Sometimes there is wifi in the cars I’m in. This is going to become increasingly the norm – the car is going to be very similar to the office environment in terms of the amenities it offers. This means that the car is going to be competing more with the plane, and many of us will choose to be driven rather than to fly. For example, to get to LA from San Francisco is an 8-hour drive. Sure, it’s longer than a two-hour flight, but if you factor in the ride to and from the airport, the security clearance and the hassle, the 8-hour car journey is increasingly attractive, particularly as we switch to autonomous vehicles, which will increase safety.
Where and when do electric vehicles feature in this picture? Most of the cars you get in today are still powered by the internal combustion engine. 
Yes, they are. But I was picked up by a Tesla last week and I expect to be sitting in more EVs in the very near future.
Don’t you worry that there is a lot of hype around EVs and AVs?  Is there a danger we’re in a bubble? 
I don’t think there’s a bubble. These are real trends that are underpinned by societal demand. BP is an oil and gas major. The internal combustion engine is a big part of its history and we believe it will still be a big part of its future. However, our perspective is that the EV market is real and emerging, and we want to create a disruptive, distinctive and differentiated offer looking at supporting that market.
How? What are you prioritising? What type of venture investments are you looking for? 
Over the next 12 months a big focus for us will be on what we do with BP’s forecourts. BP has all this real estate and all these gas stations. How is it going to monetise that? What are the gas stations going to be in the future?   BP isn’t betting that they are going to remain just gas stations.  They are going to introduce more electric vehicle charging facilities at them. That’s why we’re really interested in fast charging. We are also very focused on the material technology that enables this.
Let’s hear about your most recent investment in charging technology, FreeWire Technologies.
FreeWire is a great example of the type of investment we want to make. It’s the market leader in mobile fast charging for electric vehicles. It’s going to be trialled on our forecourts. We’ll learn a lot. FreeWire will learn a lot. BP has the ability to scale FreeWire. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. If all we can offer a venture investment is dollars, it’s not the right relationship for both parties.  The strategic relationship has to go both ways.
Why should the EV owner charge his vehicle at a BP gas station? What can BP provide that you can’t get elsewhere?
It turns out that lots of people don’t have garages they can charge their vehicles in. Around 50% of people simply can’t charge at home. Charging on a BP forecourt will be a winning proposition if you can charge in about ten minutes and drive for about 300 miles. If you re-charge at home, you don’t care how long it takes to re-charge. But with recharging elsewhere, speed is a big issue.  So, we’re very interested in fast-charging deals.
Turning now to autonomy, what’s your most recent investment here? 
We were the sole investor in Beyond Limits, a cognitive AI business whose team came out of Jet Propulsion Labs [part of NASA]. To date, most of the work we’ve done with Beyond Limits is to find what relief they can provide to our pain points in the upstream, but we know there will be applications also for the downstream. Beyond Limits is looking at mobility with BP and other partners. We will get proof of concept on its applications before going into deployment. It’s really exciting. We know that Beyond Limits is genuinely cognitive. It’s not just deep learning. With AV, there’s a huge safety issue. We have to get it right and AI is going to play a huge piece.
With EV and AV, how big a pond are you fishing in? What types of deals are you after? How early stage do you go?
We’re happy to do all stages including very early. BP is making a lot more capital available for advanced mobility opportunities and other core focus areas so we are not constrained.  We recently funded and sponsored a smart mobility competition for entrepreneurs at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering as well as partnering with TechX, an oil and gas incubator in the UK. But we’re also interested in technologies that are closer to commercialisation as well as in growth capital opportunities.
Other than fast charging, what else are you prioritising in mobility? 
We’re taking a very close look across the value chains and how it all fits together. We’re keen to see venture opportunities that disrupt the value chain at any point. We are continuing to explore opportunities in smart and advanced mobility. As BP’s recent Energy Outlook found, the interaction of fully-autonomous cars with shared mobility has the potential to substantially boost the intensity with which electric cars are driven.  BP has a new business unit, the Advanced Mobility Unit, which is focused on exploring various mobility options, and which will help inform our venturing. This is mission critical work, which can have a huge impact on not only BP’s overall business, but wider society as well.

CB Insights – March 8th, 2018
BP Ventures has invested in artificial intelligence company Beyond Limits. Beyond Limits was previously trialed in deep space exploration. At the time of its investment, BP stated that it planned to use Beyond Limits’ technology for upstream exploration, which involves searching for oil reserves.

01 March 2018
Glendale, CA


Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.

Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with AJ Abdallat, CEO at Beyond Limits:


What does your company do?
Beyond Limits is a pioneering AI company with a unique legacy from the NASA space program, notably AI technology developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Beyond Limits drives new innovations and IP on our mission to bring advanced AI technology to solve commercial applications here on Earth. We enhance software systems developed for NASA/JPL, giving them additional capabilities and hardening them to industrial strength.

We are an AI leader with breakthrough cognitive technology that goes beyond conventional AI, blending deep learning and machine learning tools together with symbolic AIs that emulate human intuition. This is what we call cognitive intelligence. Beyond Limits’ cognitive agents are trained and deployed to solve complex industrial and enterprise problems, bringing cognitive advantages to help energy, fin-tech, healthcare, and logistics companies stay competitive or transform their business for the future. The company was founded in 2014.


What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
Starting in 1998, I worked with Caltech/JPL to commercialize technologies developed at JPL, including smart sensors and artificial intelligence projects. Since then, I have founded several companies to bring innovative Caltech/JPL space technology to market, the latest of which is Beyond Limits.

Beyond Limits is the only AI company in the world attempting to bring advanced intelligence systems proven in extreme environments 150 million miles away in space, to extreme conditions 15,000 thousand feet underground for oil and gas production. Our technology has been to places where no other AI company could go, under conditions too extreme for others to master. I am extremely proud of the fact that we have been able to advance AI beyond conventional AI, applying our pioneering inventions and proven technologies from the space program to solve complex mission-critical business, industrial, and medical problems for companies here on earth.


What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
I see AI as a profoundly transformative capability that is going to have a major impact on us as a society and on our business environment. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, stated recently that “AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire.” I agree with Sundar. The biggest challenge in our business is making sure that some of the overinflated hype about the potential of AI (that, unfortunately, some companies are creating) doesn’t turn off businesses and consumers. By contrast, we aim to be plain-spoken and rational about the practical problems AI is best-suited to solve. Our customers keep us grounded in the reality of their business needs.


If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
I feel very fortunate with my career as an entrepreneur. However, my advice to younger version of myself would be to enjoy the journey and have a more balanced business and personal life.



This is the second installment of a two-part Q&A series on artificial intelligence (AI) with AJ Abdallat. It covers AI’s potential significance to computing; how AI affects jobs; the employee specializations needed to fuel AI; big data; and cultural challenges in the enterprise. Be sure to check out Part 1 as well.
AJ Abdallat is a serial entrepreneur who, from 1998 to 2011, worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) and Caltech on a series of tech incubation startups. The goal was to commercialize NASA technologies, many of which were artificial intelligence-related.
In 2014, Abdallat co-founded and became CEO of Beyond Limits, a startup that secured licenses to NASA AI technologies for use in commercial applications. Beyond Limits currently holds exclusive licenses to 42 blocks of sophisticated intellectual property developed through NASA R&D investment, a $150 million AI technology head start under the aegis of Caltech’s Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships program. Abdallat’s company is a leader in cognitive technology, which goes beyond conventional AI, binding deep learning and machine learning tools with symbolic AIs to emulate human intuition.
We interviewed Abdallat while researching the story, “AI Delivering on the Business Analytics Promise.” With AI poised to potentially revolutionize business, Abdallat’s career, which blends AI science and commercialization of the technology, makes his insights fascinating. How does the advent of AI as used by enterprises compare to earlier significant computing milestones like networking, the internet, or cloud computing?
Abdallat: Part of me wants to quash as much artificial intelligence speculation as possible. The hyperbole. But frankly, I think AI is potentially more transformative than the other things you mentioned, which are just infrastructure. AI is starting to help us pose the questions that we ultimately want to answer. What’s unique about AI is that it’s an introspective exercise. Every new success for AI is giving us some insight about how we work.

AJ Abdallat is co-founder and CEO, Beyond Limits, an artificial intelligence firm. He’s an engineer and entrepreneur.
As we integrate AI, the trend may not be that transformative initially. Improvements will likely be focused on doing it faster, bigger with lower downtime and more efficiency. But what comes next is thinking about all the humans involved in that process, and what they touch and how they work. I think once AI starts to integrate with that activity, and act at that level within the enterprise, this will truly change how we think about what a business is meant to do. I’m a little biased in this, but you might go so far as to say we are entering the era of the cognitive corporation, where man and machine at all levels of the enterprise will operate in a synergistic fashion to solve problems, each learning from the other.
If you think about most business processes and most problems that humans find interesting to solve, they are heterogeneous. They move through a pipeline of different specialists that look at separate pieces or provide specific oversight to balance specialized objectives. If I can couple my engineering and sales activities at the enterprise level, and use AI to mediate the trade-offs of both of those objectives, and I have these people processes synchronized with machine processes, it gives me the ability to learn how these two potentially juxtaposed business ends are coupled, where they’re divergent, and what kind of switches I can flick or knobs I can turn to make the net positive of these two forces all the greater. Is artificial intelligence intended to replace humans or help them do their jobs?
Abdallat: In some places, as with any kind of automation, you will see some jobs go away. But the labor that was there before finds a new role working with AI, and I think those new roles, especially at the level of knowledge work, will be very interesting.
As good as artificial intelligence systems are, they’re not going to set our objectives. They can move toward them, and think outside the box, which is one of things that we work hard to do at Beyond Limits. But being able to deal with the nuances of problems is still something that humans excel at. So, finding the things that are worth teaching to AI, to learn and to figure out, that’ll still always be a job in the hands of humans. I imagine that’s also when it gets kind of cyclical. I’m going to learn something, the machine’s going to discover a new pattern, we’ll optimize an approach that I didn’t think could be optimized to such a degree. That’s going to give me new questions, which makes me give it new training data, and the process continues like that. What types of software engineers are now or soon will be in demand to support AI, machine learning and this new industry?
Abdallat: One of the things we’re starting to see is a change in job definition. You probably hear about data scientists and machine learning scientists. What we’re going to see more of is taking that science and flipping it with engineer. There’s a ton of stuff in the laboratory that works and is great. And scientists can write papers and come up with nice coefficients for polynomials that solve problems. But at the end of the day, there’s an infrastructure that makes all this work. So, we will probably begin to see new job titles emerge, like data engineer. A data engineer is maybe the bridge between the work that the data scientist does and the infrastructure in which his data lives. He or she is much more of a software engineer but has some knowledge of the data science workflow and algorithms germane to data and AI work.
Data engineers are becoming more important, and we’re finding they fit somewhere between IT and the business. I think that’s important. It’s the same with machine learning people. For example, the actuary of the future will simply be a data scientist who works in insurance. Systems analysts will gradually become systems data scientists. Of course, to make all this stuff work securely, we’ll probably see a ballooning of the specialized security people to support the work that goes into the systems engineering. Unfortunately, the world is more adversarial than we would like. Does AI present a cultural challenge to enterprises?
Abdallat: Earlier big data solutions and the fact that AI looks promising for big data have paved the way. AI asks for similar machineries, although it can be used in smaller footprints when available. Culturally, some IT organizations are more progressive than others. Some like to play with new toys and would be stoked to get this down, assuming they have the budget, and AI may be enough to motivate them to allocate budget.
In other cases, there may be entrenched opposition to change. But it’s such an exciting field that whenever you start talking about artificial intelligence, you’re going to get buy-in. Some healthy skepticism is a good thing too. You can try to channel it into constructive ways of alleviating the concerns that people bring up, and assess whether they’re just nay-saying the next new thing or they’re aware of a valid institutional or physical barrier to success.

AJ Abdallat is a serial entrepreneur who worked on artificial intelligence (AI) projects and commercializing smart sensors at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1998 until 2011. Later he founded, launched and ran several spinoff companies from Caltech/JPL, doing AI work in support of the space program and various defense agencies. NASA, for one, has used AI in its deep space missions and on the Mars Rover for more than 10 years.

In 2014, Abdallat cofounded Beyond Limits, which secured licenses to NASA AI technology with the goal of commercializing the technologies. Beyond Limits owns exclusive licenses to 42 blocks of sophisticated intellectual property (IP) developed through NASA R&D investment, a $150 million AI-technology head start under the aegis of Caltech’s Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships program.

Beyond Limits enhances the AI IP developed for NASA/JPL, and drives new IP and innovations through its mission to bring advanced AI technology to commercial applications. The company is an AI leader in cognitive technology that goes beyond conventional AI, binding deep learning and machine learning tools together with symbolic AIs to emulate human intuition.
We interviewed Abdallat, who is CEO of Beyond Limits, while researching the story, “AI Delivering on the Business Analytics Promise.” He offered a lot of interesting commentary that just didn’t fit that earlier story. With AI poised to potentially revolutionize business, the fact that Abdallat’s career has bridged the gap of advanced AI science and commercializing it makes his insights fascinating on topics including digital transformation, IoT, big data and what AI can and can’t do.

Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series. What three key things about AI should every C-suite member know?
Abdallat: No. 1 is understanding the transformative power of AI. Most of the AI out there today is not going to replace a human. There is a balance needed between understanding the promise of AI and not being unduly fearful of losing their jobs due to the much-publicized peril. AI is going to advance a lot of progress that’s already in place, not necessarily upend everything. So yes, there are transformative solutions in AI, but I think there are lots of places for it to plug in with what you’re already doing today, in ways that can considerably augment what is done, and free up time for individuals in your organization to turn their minds to the harder problems that AI hasn’t even cracked the shell of yet.

N0. 2 is business practicality. For every AI algorithm, there are 100 articles telling you that it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It either doesn’t matter or it’s going to change your life. I think one of the things that’s important to realize is that AI needs to start with a problem to solve. So, being cognizant of which of your business problems have the biggest potential payoff in their resolution is how you should think about applying AI, as opposed to what AI would be good at solving. The chances are, if you have a problem, AI can shed some light on it. Prioritizing how you describe that problem will be more important than selecting the right AI hammer to swing at a particular nail. Understanding what your problem really is helps artificial intelligence experts devise solutions for you.
 AJ Abdallat is co-founder and CEO, Beyond Limits. He’s an AI engineer and entrepreneur. AJ Abdallat is co-founder and CEO, Beyond Limits. He’s an AI engineer and entrepreneur.

The third thing the C-suite should know about AI is timing. The time to start thinking about this is not now, it was yesterday. Companies that started experimenting with AI a few years ago are reaping the rewards today. One large, recent study shows that 75 percent of surveyed executives say that AI will be “actively implemented” in their companies within the next three years. So, it’s happening right now.

A lot of people reading the news can’t help but wonder maybe today should be the day to act, because every day I read about something new. In fact, the sooner you can modernize your digital infrastructure, the sooner you can bring AI to address your business issues. You need to level the playing field with potential competitors. Today is the day to upgrade your networks to get more digital, get more instrumentation. The benefit is it will optimize a lot of what you’re doing today, even without AI, but it also makes the AI integration possible. AI can’t work if it can’t see the data. Does AI just pave the cow path or create a whole new business model?
Abdallat: It depends on your perspective. AI can help to automate a lot of things, and that would be paving the cow path. But in general, AI can help humans see problems in new ways. Let’s say I have a bunch of data and I don’t know what’s important in it. This is the kind of thing where we used to have pre-formed opinions, where we would have a group of statisticians help us answer. Now, with an afternoon and an algorithm I can get you a hypothesis of what’s important in your data. Is that automation? I don’t know, it’s automation of ideation, which is certainly more esoteric, and that’s where we’re headed. But I think there’s probably room for both. AI will achieve new business models, but we’re also trying to get AI to do things we’ve been doing forever. It’s really a function of how. That’s what AI changes: how we do things, not so much why. Why you should change things is ultimately something the C-suite should determine. CEOs make decisions about the future. Could artificial intelligence help?
Abdallat: Forty-six percent of executives are fearful that their business may get disrupted by an AI-powered startup, rather than a direct competitor. So, it’s a competitive necessity. Today, big companies are using AI for analytical, predictive, diagnostic and industrial control purposes. Some AI touches ordinary people through services, but they probably aren’t aware. What we’re looking at more and more is: How do I stay aware of a big stream of data and change my hypotheses as that stream comes online? There are companies looking at this, like Beyond Limits. It will become more common, but it’s going to be less about data at rest and more about data in motion. How can I quickly translate the data that I find for my search into some kind of action? That is the next big step for big data, analytics and artificial intelligence. People say lack of data and missing data are issues. Is that true?
Abdallat: Yes. One of the things we bump up against is, What happens when I don’t have all the data, or we missed some of it? A lot of machine learning approaches are bumping into this problem as well, and what they need is human intuition or expertise to guide them over those initial stumbling blocks. That’s when the unconventional comes into play.

IoT is an excellent example of missing data and so on. The internet of things (IoT) brings us new orders of magnitude of data that we need to analyze at higher frequency time scales than we’ve been asked to do before. IoT also forces us to do it out at the edge, away from the super computer that lives in the cloud that can help us answer a bunch of questions efficiently. It’s challenging to make decisions quickly enough at the edge without the ability to go back to the cloud. Because here, the speed of light without exaggeration is a factor. You’re not going to be able to get inside that decision loop if you’re waiting for light to travel back to the server farm and out to the edge again with the information needed to make your decision. You will have to bind some of the intelligence to the edge to be inside the control loop, so to speak.

IoT also relies a good deal on sensor data that has far less redundancy. That means you’re going to get data drop out. On a single installation, some of the sensors just turn off. Others might be generating data that we know, with some prior knowledge, is out of spec; we know not to believe it. These are the kinds of problems you’re going to have when you interface with industrial machinery and lightweight distributed sensors at scale. The challenge is how to deal not only with the new stream of data, but also the inconsistency in its delivery.
Watch for Part 2 of this series, which will cover big data/unstructured data, business process issues, human factors, and where AI is headed.

According to Gartner’s 2017 hype cycle for emerging technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) will automate 1.8 million people out of work by 2020. While the job losses generate the most interest and headlines, the losses only tell part of the story. Dig a little bit deeper into the hype cycle and you’ll see Gartner also predicts AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, driving a net gain of 500,000 new jobs.

The question is no longer whether AI will fundamentally change the workplace. The true question is how companies can successfully use AI in ways that enable, not replaces, the human workforce, helping to make humans faster, more efficient and more productive.


Automation Requires Creating New Skillsets

Andy Peart is Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Barcelona, Spain-based Artificial Solutions, a global specialist in natural language interaction. Peart believes that while AI could threaten unskilled jobs through automation, it will also potentially create different kinds of jobs that require new skill sets that will be developed through training.

“Computerized automation does potentially put low-skilled workers whose jobs could be easily automated at risk. But conversely, this may be a short-term effect while the labor market readjusts,” he said. “Warnings of technology being the harbinger of death for the job market are nothing new. Automation makes it cheaper to produce fabric, which in turn led to more customers, which drove demand for more products. The job might have changed, but during the industrial revolution, there was no shortage of work for semi-skilled labor.”

Peart cites the example of chatbots. Rather than cutting the number of people working, chatbots are about “augmenting the people you already have,” he said, automating the mundane and increasingly the complex but repetitive processes. This will free people up to do more of the high-value, relationship building services while deploying AI/chatbots in areas where they excel.


AI: Equally Disrupting and Enabling

Hanover, Md.-based Allegis Group is a talent solutions provider with over 500 locations across the globe and $11 billion in annual revenue. Rachel Russell is the executive director of corporate strategy for the company.

Russell shared the results of a global survey Allegis conducted in July of more than 300 HR professionals at a senior manager level and above. Survey respondents reported having mixed feelings about AI and its impact on the future of work. Twenty-one percent viewed AI as something to be excited about. Seventeen percent considered it both disrupting and enabling, and a lower number, 9 percent, believed AI will displace most jobs in 10 years.

“This mixed view of AI is not surprising because technology does more than automate tasks; it changes the nature of the work we do. The person whose role no longer includes a certain repetitive task automated by AI may not necessarily lose their job. Rather, they may now have new responsibilities that more broadly focus on human capabilities that AI cannot deliver,” Russell said.

She added that while some jobs will certainly be lost as AI takes on skills formerly attributed to humans, new jobs will also emerge. For example, a number of positions are already developing around AI, such as AI trainers, individuals to support data science and capabilities related to modeling, computational intelligence, machine learning, mathematics, psychology, linguistics and neuroscience.

“In any case, as AI takes on more of the work we do, continuous learning and a willingness to develop new skills will likely be a requirement for nearly every worker to maintain their job. This fact has always been true for workers in many fields, but now it’s more important than ever,” Russell said.


Changing the Scope of Jobs

Oliver Schabenberger, CTO and COO of Cary, NC-based SAS agrees. He noted 55 percent of respondents to a survey carried out by SAS believe the biggest challenge related to AI is the changing scope of human jobs in light of AI’s automation and autonomy. The potential effect of AI on jobs includes job losses, but also the development of new jobs requiring new AI-related skills.

Current AI systems are trained to perform a human task well, but they are trained to do one task and one task alone, he said. The system that plays chess cannot play solitaire or poker, and it will not acquire skills to do so. The software that drives an autonomous vehicle cannot operate the lights in your home.

“This does not mean that this form of AI is not powerful. It has the potential to transform many industries — maybe every industry,” Schabenberger said. “But we should not get ahead of ourselves in terms of what can be accomplished. Systems that learn in a supervised, top-down fashion based on training data cannot grow beyond the contents of the data; they cannot create or innovate or reason.”


Not an All or Nothing Scenario

For David Lavenda, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy at Boston-based, AI will not be able to replace human judgment. AI is just the most recent manifestation of ongoing workplace evolution, he said. Since the industrial revolution, many significant innovations have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation — and AI will likely follow suit.

“Companies that make and use workforce-management software acknowledge these concerns but say machines are no substitute for human judgment and ability to manage interpersonal relations. Instead, they say their software speeds up administrative work and uses data to help human managers improve decisions they previously made only by drawing upon gut instinct and experience,” Lavenda said.

Moving forward he suggests that enterprise leaders and workers, instead of looking at AI as a robot that will steal jobs, must start looking at it as intelligence augmentation (IA). In essence, the jobs that remain will be improved by IA making us smarter. “The point isn’t that it’s all or nothing, AI replacing people versus super smart programmers. There will be many jobs where ordinary people can be augmented by IA and that will help make them more marketable and competitive in the new economy,” he said.


An AI Skills Shortage

AI, then, may result in certain jobs being lost to automation, but it will create other posts to be filled. In fact, according to Mohit Josh, head of banking, financial services and insurance, healthcare and life sciences at Bengaluru, India-based Infosys, there aren’t enough qualified workers available to fill all of the AI-related roles.

“Currently there is a widespread shortage of talent that possesses the knowledge and capabilities to properly build, fuel, and maintain these technologies within their organizations. The lack of well-trained professionals who can build and direct a company’s AI and digital transformation journeys noticeably hinders progress and continues to be a major hurdle for businesses,” he said.

To mitigate this, businesses should look inward and enforce on-the-job training and re-skilling. With the proper staff powering AI, employees are able to focus on other critical activities and boost productivity.


AI Can’t Set Objectives

The last word goes to AJ Abdallat, CEO of Glendale, Calif.-based Beyond Limits which was created to commercialize cutting-edge technology developed by Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He pointed out that as good as AI systems are, they’re not going to set objectives.

“They can move toward them, and think outside the box. But being able to deal with the nuances of problems is still something that humans obviously excel at. So finding the things that are worth teaching to the AI, to learn and to figure out, that’ll still always be a job in the hands of humans,” he said. “That’s also when it gets kind of cyclical. I’m going to learn something, the machine’s going to discover a new pattern, we’ll optimize an approach that I didn’t think could be optimized to such a degree. That’s going to give me new questions, which makes me give it new training data, and the process continues like that. “

AI may cut the mundane out of many jobs, but in order for it to work effectively, it will need more people in new roles. Training, it seems, is the way to avoid AI-induced unemployment.



29 November 2017
Author: Todd Aitken


AJ Abdallat, the CEO of Beyond Limits, is on a mission to make life better for all of us by changing the landscape of artificial intelligence so that it can achieve its unfulfilled potential. Many pundits of the technology eagerly are anticipating his next move as he is uniquely qualified and determined to make AI an integral part of our everyday life. This is not surprising as AJ has been a co-founder and CEO for various Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) startups focusing on AI, smart sensors and systems, life sciences, finance, and homeland security for years.

Mr. Abdallat is a high-tech serial entrepreneur with more than 19 years of experience of bringing high-tech startups to fruition throughout his illustrious career, specializing in artificial intelligence, reasoning systems, and smart sensors. The entrepreneurial-minded executive has helped to raise more than $100 million in venture and strategic investments. Helping Beyond Limits close a Series B for $20 million from BP Ventures is his most recent round of successful fundraising. He also has been featured or quoted in highly regarded, world-renowned publications such as The Wall Street Journal, International Business Times, ZDNet, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, and Entrepreneur magazine.


Latest Endeavor
His company, Beyond Limits, is an industry-leading firm in AI and cognitive computing that was co-founded by AJ to commercialize the bleeding-edge IP developed by his team, which has more than 20 years of supporting NASA’s JPL space program. For more than 10 years NASA has used AI in its Deep Space missions and on the Mars Rover. Since there is zero-tolerance for failure in space, it is the consummate stress test for determining the workability of AI. The AI developed by Beyond Limits can run on very small devices on minimal power, which is vital in space. This is an system that is working optimally in perhaps the extremist environment imaginable.


AJ on AI
AJ Abdallat is impassioned to bring AI to the masses. However, he acknowledges that there is a significant shortcoming even in today’s most powerful artificial intelligence systems, which must be overcome to bring his goal to life, and it is a matter of reasoning. Only two types of reasoning are used with most existing AI systems: inductive and deductive. To fulfill the potential of AI on a worldwide level, abductive reasoning also must be incorporated into the mix.

Abductive reasoning is the difference maker as it seeks the most likely explanation within a given set of observations. Most of us think or solve problems this way naturally with minimal forethought. It is often mistaken for intuition. The usefulness of abductive reasoning is ubiquitous; it is a gap-filler capable of making logical, rational decisions without having full or clearly defined details. The cognitive AI developed by Beyond Limits was inspired by the functional behavior of a human brain, enabling human-like reasoning, artificial intelligence, and cognitive computing solutions.

Beyond Limit’s cognitive AI is powered by the world’s fastest AI interface engine. It can execute more than 100 million roles per second on standard computing systems, performing more than 1.5 billion calculations per second. Its flexibility, powerfulness, and scalability exceed conventional AI, and it works seamlessly on off-the-shelf IT gear and requires a much smaller computing footprint.

Additionally, it is deployable in the cloud, on a chip, or when embedded into devices.

The future of AI is in good hands with executives AJ Abdallat at its helm. His heartfelt passion for AI with human-like reasoning is infectious. His precedent-setting effort to “humanize” AI is making him someone that people want to hear, especially the high-tech community. He has replaced suppositional conjectures with a forged path on clarity on what it is going to take to reach the next level with AI. It is a work in progress with a defined direction. AJ Abdallat is a thought-provoking visionary who has the computing power to change our culture and lives for the better.



Beyond Limits has conquered the depths of space—now see how it’s bringing its expertise home.

What’s 20 years old, has been in deep space, and is now looking to take on the oil and gas and healthcare industries?
Beyond Limits’ artificial intelligence, of course.
“Whereas many popularized cognitive computing solutions in the marketplace are focused on deep machine learning applied to sensor fusion and computer vision, our cognitive computing focuses on human thinking and automates human decision processes,” CEO AJ Abdallat said.
NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense trust Beyond Limit’s AI program. NASA used the software for optimization on Mars missions and diagnostics of its deep space network. The AI evolved in the vacuum of space, but is it ready for earthly functions?
BP Ventures thinks so. The company was the sole investor during the California-based AI company’s Series B round of fundraising, bringing $20 million to the table. Five-year-old Beyond Limits already had $5.5 million from previous fundraising efforts.
The company claims its AI is faster than any other option on the market because it has been “battle tested in deep space where there is zero margin for error”.
“Our AI can work with unknown or missing data and figure out hypothetical scenarios and fill in the missing pieces—much like humans with experience do,” said Abdallat.
How it’s going to take on the oil and gas market and then conquer some of the toughest problems in healthcare may be a slightly different process.
Bringing AI to O&G
“Oil and gas is one of the largest industrial segments and is a natural fit for our cognitive computing capability,” Abdallat shared.
BP in particular is interested in bringing Beyond Limit’s on board. The partnership is expected to fundamentally change the way BP does business.
“The BP-Beyond Limits partnership could enable a step change in the way BP locates and develops reservoirs, produces and refines crude oil, and markets and supplies refined products,” the companies said.
Just the value an AI system can bring to drilling makes the BP-Beyond Limits partnership an advantageous opportunity. When machine learning is applied to drilling, information from seismic vibrations, thermal gradients, strata permeability, pressure differentials, and more is collected. By analyzing this data, AI software can help geoscientists better assess variables, taking some of the guesswork out of equipment repair and failure, unplanned downtime, and even help determine potential locations of new wells.
Beyond Limits AI Inevitable
This was a timely strategic move from BP. GE Oil & Gas has already been working with AI tech for about two years now. Other companies outside the oil and gas space—including Cisco, C3, and Aeris—have been contributing their respective AI software to the industry for some time now.
The funding from BP Ventures is expected to contribute to the hiring of cognitive and data scientists and software engineers, which will assist the company’s AI software with making the transition to earthly matters. CEO Abdallat also shared that more sales staff will be put in place to keep up with the increasing demand in the oil and gas marketplace.
As the oil and gas market—and the price of crude oil in particular—continues to be unstable, AI brings better predictive technology and efficiency to mining operations. It also means that companies can reach new levels of production without driving costs up.
“Our strategic cooperation with Beyond Limits is a perfect fit with BP’s vision of using digital technology to help transform our organisation. We believe artificial intelligence will be one of the most critical digital technologies to drive new levels of performance across the industry,” Morag Watson, Chief Digital Innovation officer at BP, shared.
By providing process automation, optimization from a business standpoint, and a different lens aimed at operational insight, Beyond Limits can truly evolve the way the oil and gas industry works.
The oil industry had been lethargic at best in adapting to digital technology. BP’s Director of Exploration and Production Business, Bernard Looney, knows this, but is optimistic for BP’s ability to catch up.
“We are now making up for lost time—fast,” he said. “Big data is revolutionizing big oil.”
Beyond Limits AI in Healthcare
“Our technology benefits sectors where there are any people managing complex operations, especially where there are well-defined operational procedures and best practices,” Abdallat shared.
“Our cognitive computing helps to improve decision velocity, decision quality, detects the unknown, and digitally assists with knowledge transfer from experts to other personnel.”
Sounds like a perfect fit for the healthcare sector, doesn’t it?
Beyond Limits thinks so, and has appointed Dr. Manikanda Arunachalam, Cardiologist and Venture Capital specialist, as its Senior Vice President for Corporate Development and Investments. The good doctor will guide the company through expansion into the health tech space, bringing truly cognitive AI solutions to the sector via its Life Sciences platform.
“Beyond Limits’ Life Sciences platform provides transformative value proposition to diverse stakeholders in the healthcare industry that could improve clinical outcomes, optimize costs, and build sustainable business models,” said Dr. Arunachalam.
“[It] will be an ideal partner for health systems, care plans, CRO’s, genomics companies, and many other providers in digital health and the healthcare Internet of Things.”
One of the biggest areas we see AI contributing to the healthcare market is through security. Patient privacy is paramount, and AI’s ability to look at multiple network data points at the same time will allow it to take immediate action on hacking threats, minimizing the impact. For Beyond Life Sciences—Beyond Limit’s healthcare division of the company—AI software could help doctors come up with personalized treatment plans after gathering and analysing data points from throughout a patient’s medical records and history. IBM’s Watson, the only easily recognizable AI in healthcare right now,  is already helping oncologists treat cancer.
From data security, patient care, and even the automation of medical devices, Beyond Limits is looking to have a big impact in this space.
To Limits and Beyond
This isn’t the end of where Beyond Limits can make its impact. The company’s leaders are currently building the foundation for the organization to contribute to spaces like energy, finance, manufacturing, and logistics and transportation.
Beyond Limits has already performed out-of-this-world capabilities—literally. But I’m betting it will have an even bigger impact here on earth.
“Exploring space is about being able to handle the unknown,” shared Abdallat. “Real-world industrial-grade AI will need to do the same to truly become commercially viable at scale in critical industries.”