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 enables, not replaces, the human workforce, helping to make humans faster, more efficient and more productive.2
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 skillsets that will be developed though 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 product. 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,1” 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 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 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 the 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 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,1 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 harmon.ie, 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 possess 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 reskilling. 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.
Todd Aitken 29/11/2017 18:59
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 cofounder 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.
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 isan AIsystem 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 existingAI 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.”
By Atanu Shaw on October 11 2017 2:59 PM
Where Does Artificial Intelligence Go From Here
Studies are ongoing so that NASA’s artificial intelligence (AI) systems could eventually run spacecrafts with much higher intelligence during deep space explorations. Meanwhile, on Earth, a company based in Southern California is adapting NASA’s AI systems to advance market comprehension and benefit business technologies on Earth.
Since landing on Mars in 2012, NASA has been dramatically expanding Earth’s understanding of the Martian climate and geology through the Curiosity rover. Next year, another spacecraft, InSight, is probing deeper into Mars to investigate the red planet’s interior.
Space missions are becoming more complex as automation technologies are evolving, developing higher intelligence. The same thing is happening back on Earth. AI is going beyond mere data crunching and machine operations. The world is seeing tremendous advancements in deep learning. AI systems are paving the way for more meaningful innovations and disruptions in various industries.
NASA AI To Boost Business On Earth
For its space missions, Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena aims to build spacecrafts that would require less of high-level human direction, particularly in surprising situations. On Earth, a company called Beyond Limits aims to deliver automated solutions that can process big data with human-level comprehension.
Caltech has granted Beyond Limits license to improve and commercialize its AI technology for business operations. Incidentally, The Economist has found that companies in North America are truly keen about understanding how AI solutions can impact their growth.
“We are creating automated solutions with advanced intelligence so they can think more like humans,” says AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond Limits, based in Glendale. The company has recently secured $20 million in Series B funding from BP Ventures. It is poised to deliver game-changing industrial-grade AI solutions to manage big and emerging markets.
“In some ways, the hype for conventional AI has exceeded the promise,” Abdallat explains, adding that business technologies today need automations powered by cognitive human-like reasoning that can truly comprehend the intricacies of large amounts of data.
“It is this transformative technology that will help AI accomplish the vision of bettering human lives,” the CEO adds. He further underscores the fact that Beyond Limits offers solutions that have been tested and proven in space. He further underscores the fact that Beyond Limits offers solutions that have been tested and polished in space. Standard AI and machine learning processes are simply touching the tip of a colossal iceberg.
By 2020, business analysts at Forrester Research predict insights-driven businesses will take away $1.2 trillion per annum from their competition, assuming the competition is not investing well in customer insights.
‘Extremely Light’ Solution Perfect For IoT
In both fiction and real life, talks about advanced AI systems are often met with confusion and skepticism, if not fear. For some, simplifying AI using the word automation helps in coming to terms with what it really means.
Still, not every business is eager to adapt to AI systems because of financial reasons. Existing AI stand to be extremely resource intensive. The usual AI requirements today, like a great deal of server hardware and expensive human resource for control and direction, are quite intimidating.
Some small to medium size enterprises fear AI may not be worth investing in now. However, experts are saying AI is here to stay, and small businesses can leverage it now.
Beyond Limits is also addressing the most common blocks between AI and businesses. Its technology is extremely light yet fast and profoundly intelligent. Power is not an issue; it can even run on small devices, perfect for the Internet of Things (IoT).
Consider the Curiosity Mars rover. The Jet Propulsion Lab is running it, and soon the InSight, with the most cutting-edge and adaptive AI‘brainwork’ from NASA with smart use of power at play.
The future of AI is boundless. Abdallat anticipates the application of NASA’s AI in every industry one can imagine: finance, transportation, healthcare and more. Exceptionally efficient and flexible, NASA’s AI is set to augmenthuman capability on Earth.
In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story Silver Blaze, Sherlock Holmes is able to uncover the theft of a famous race horse by quickly grasping the significance of no one hearing the family dog barking the night of the theft. Since the dog was kept in the stables, the natural inference was that the thief must have been someone the dog knew.
This type of reasoning, which seeks the simplest and most likely explanation given a set of observations, is known as abductive reasoning, and it is the type of reasoning humans use most often. In fact, it comes so naturally to us, the conclusions so immediate and so often correct, that it’s mistaken for intuition. Abductive reasoning is useful even in the presence of incomplete or misleading details, making it ideal in real-world situations. It’s the type of reasoning that needs to be imbued in AI systems before trusted autonomy can be achieved — that is, the point where we trust AI systems to perform complex tasks that require flexibility and quick decision making, even with incomplete or inaccurate data input, and not harm us in the process.
When we hear about AI, it’s often accompanied by words like deep/machine learning and big data. The purveying weakness here is two-fold. There must be enough good data, and there must be enough (heavy and expensive) infrastructure to process all that data. It’s one thing to win a game of chess or go against a world champion, but it’s entirely another when you’re trying to land a rover on Mars. That’s the leap between an AI system that’s memorized a game with a finite set of rules and an AI system that is trusted to make quick decisions when the field of possibilities is endless and impossible to enumerate.
It’s the leap that some AI companies are attempting to make. Already, the more cutting-edge AI researchers and companies are producing bio-inspired AI platforms with human-like reasoning and problem-solving abilities. Researchers like those at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (some of my company’s AI platform is based on research and technology from NASA/JPL research) space exploration program have been developing this type of AI platform for a while now. In space, where an additional ounce can determine viability and cost millions in R&D, fast, light and agile systems must sense, diagnose, predict and respond in situations with infinite unknown factors and many possible outcomes.
AI’s technology that combines inductive, deductive and abductive capabilities makes this type of human-like reasoning possible. It allows a platform to rapidly analyze a complex situation and come up with a solution much like humans would, even in the presence of missing, misleading or distracting information. What makes these AI platforms even more unique is that they can serve as a guardian angel of sorts, working in tandem with traditional AI systems to add an additional layer of supervision. An AI platform can be programmed to learn even abstract rules and concepts, akin to morality and ethics, and adhere to these rules no matter the scenario presented.
This function becomes more and more important as AI systems invariably take on more tasks in our society, often with minimal supervision. Luminaries, including Elon Musk and Steven Hawking, have expressed concern about the possible risk to humans should AI devices grow too far ahead of the users who control them. Facebook recently had to temporarily shut downone of its AI labs when chatbots began communicating in a language unintelligible to researchers.
Additionally, AI systems are at risk of hacking and corrupt or incorrect data affecting their proper functionality. Take, for example, the Germanwings pilot who locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit and used the autopilot system to crash into a mountain. An AI system with trusted autonomy needs to be sophisticated enough to potentially override such a command, even if the correct overrides are imputed. Much like a human flight control officer would immediately flag a request to deter from the set flight trajectory as suspicious, even without knowing what was going on onboard, a guardian AI should be able to analyze the situation, play out various scenarios and determine if such a command is suspicious all within seconds. And if it is suspicious, it could refuse to change to the autopilot trajectory, hopefully avoiding any potential tragedy.
AI with trusted autonomy parallels Issac Assimov’s classic Three Laws of Robotics, but is flexible enough to be modified to fit whatever industry and application it is applied to. While Terminator-level AI threats are still very much in the realm of science fiction, it’s comforting to know that the creators of the next generation of advanced AI are keeping in mind that human-like reasoning should be coupled with a directive for human life and comfort.
June 28, 2017
Supermajor’s investment arm backs artificial intelligence start-up.
Artificial intelligence (AI), digitalisation and automation are all key areas of debate and innovation in the oil industry right now. That has also meant an increase in interest and capital flows outside the conventional arenas of oil and gas technology.
In early June Pasadena-based Beyond Limits, an AI-focused start-up spun out of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), announced that it had secured US$20 million in investment from BP Ventures. Leveraging technology from Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and from projects with NASA and the US Department of Defense, Beyond Limits is more used to finding ways of deploying its IP to interplanetary missions than managing resources on earth. However, the oil super-major’s corporate and technology investment arm is evidently keen to see if the start-up’s expertise can aid its own push towards smarter digital operations.
Reportedly, the Series B funding will accelerate delivery of industrial-grade AI software, and combine BP’s existing human knowledge with machine learning to provide “new levels of operational insight, business optimisation and process automation across all operations.”
According to the two companies, the 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 software is aimed at improving the speed and quality of decision-making and managing operational risks, as well as better harnessing and sharing some of the human expertise of BP’s team.
In a statement, BP’s chief digital innovation officer Morag Watson commented: “Our strategic co-operation 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.”
In an interview with ZDNet, Beyond Limits CEO AJ Abdallat explained: “Whereas many popularised 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.” This enables it to speculate, compute hypothetical scenarios and fill in data gaps using its experience – much as a human operator might do.
BP Ventures – America’s managing director, Meghan Sharp, will also join the Beyond Limits board.
As has been seen with other venture capital arms – last month, for example, InnovOil spoke with Statoil Technology Invest about its strategy and technology targets – BP’s investments are made with a view to enabling long-term gains for the organisation, rather than rapid technology development or financial return. BP Ventures’ portfolio is oriented towards E&P and downstream conversion process technologies, as well as a strategic focus on five key areas, including: bio and low-carbon products, carbon management, power and storage, advanced mobility and digital transformation.
Highlighting the diversity of this approach, in April 2016, BP Ventures acquired a stake in RocketRoute, a flight planning business. BP’s aviation business – Air BP – had co-operated with the company previously to co-ordinate its aviation fuelling network. The company’s cloud-based services help integrate flight planning, fuel purchasing, crew briefing, flight plan filing, dispatch and flight tracking into its proprietary app.
Neither is BP the first operator to embrace AI technology; GE is also putting weight behind its proprietary Predix platform, applying machine learning and AI elements to tasks such as predictive corrosion management, and has acquired a string of other AI-focused companies to help it expand its offering.
With super-majors like BP and services giants such as GE pushing the technology, AI has well and truly arrived in oil and gas. Beyond Limits’ interstellar-tested technologies may be the latest to benefit from BP’s backing, but they are certainly not the last.
A couple of years ago, AJ Abdallat went online and bought a bracelet from a major department store as a gift for his wife. He wasn’t happy with the product, he says, but to this day, he continues to receive online advertising based on that one negative purchasing experience. “Every time I log into Yahoo, they’re pushing ads for this store to me,” he says.
This is the kind of ham-handed online advertising that Abdallat, CEO of the new startup Beyond Limits Corporation, based in Thousand Oaks, California, says is soon to become a thing of the past. The company has licensed two artificial intelligence programs from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that will enable Beyond Limits to target digital marketing with far greater precision.
The creator of both those programs is Mark James, scientist with the Reasoning, Modeling, and Simulation Group at JPL. He and colleague David Atkinson created the earliest version of the Spacecraft Health Inference Engine (SHINE) back in the 1980s. “It was designed because, in the early days, spacecraft had very little computational power,” James recalls.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Spacecraft Health Inference Engine (SHINE) first proved itself when it discovered an anomaly in the Voyager spacecraft’s telemetry system just before the craft’s encounter with Neptune in 1989. Since then, the software has been used to monitor the health of a host of NASA systems.
Traditional expert-system software, which simulates the knowledge and judgment of a human expert in a given field, uses a vast knowledge base to process input and relies on a large mainframe computer or server to execute. It would include a general-purpose reasoning system that would repeatedly interpret the rules of its knowledge base. SHINE, by contrast, compiles the same knowledge base into a compact representation, which can natively be executed on the user’s computer much faster, and which it uses to synthesize a lean, custom solution for each problem presented. It’s as if, rather than calling in an entire 100-member advisory team to solve a given problem, one sends for just the two specialists needed to address the specific issue at hand, James explains. “The other 98 people can go away, and you can get the problem solved much quicker and in a smaller space.”
A number of years ago, SHINE and C Language Integrated Production System (CLIPS)—a popular expert-system tool also created by NASA—were benchmarked executing the same test knowledge bases. CLIPS executed about 40,000 rules per second with a 20-megabyte memory footprint, while SHINE executed the same knowledge base at 100 to 300 million rules per second with just a 20- to 30-kilobyte memory footprint, demonstrating “tremendous performance improvements over anything else out there,” James says.
SHINE was designed to monitor the health of spacecraft systems, and the inference engine first proved itself when it discovered an anomaly in the Voyager spacecraft’s telemetry system just before the craft’s encounter with Neptune in 1989. Had SHINE not made this discovery, mission progress could have been impeded. Since then, it’s been used on many other NASA missions. For example, SHINE was used on the ground to perform telemetry analysis for the Galileo and Magellan missions, and it performed diagnostics and prognostic monitoring for the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission and the NASA Deep Space Network, which maintains communications with spacecraft. It’s also found a host of other applications in most military branches.
All along, it’s been continually improved to make it faster and smarter. James says SHINE has been used to solve problems in cybersecurity, has been embedded in appliances, and has performed diagnostics for instrumented systems, robotics, and security systems, among others.
The other program Beyond Limits licensed is also powered in part by SHINE. Hunter is a natural language-understanding system James developed about six years ago. “It differs from other systems by allowing you to define models for what you wish to know and being able to extract that content from poorly structured text,” James says. Whereas other language-understanding approaches use either template-matching or grammar-based solutions—comparing text with preprogrammed example phrases—Hunter can take a single representative statement and come up with hundreds of ways to paraphrase it because it hunts for intention rather than trying to parse everything using a traditional grammar.
Beyond Limits was formed in 2012 and licensed a suite of software programs and two patents from NASA the following year. The company set to work, making improvements to the software, especially SHINE, and figuring out how to use it to target online advertising to individual users.
Rather than simply remembering that a user once bought something from a particular store or pushing content based on words a user has typed, the software seeks to understand a person’s intent at a given time and push relevant content, Abdallat says. He notes that this information can be combined with any demographic information that might be available, as well as individuals’ Internet history to refine inferences about their intents and interests.
“Clearly, artificial intelligence, rule-based systems, and natural language understanding were the natural tools and building blocks for this capability,” he says.
SHINE, an artificial intelligence program NASA designed to monitor the health of space systems, is now being used to determine the intent and sentiment of Internet users to better target advertising.
The software makes its inferences beginning with the assumption that an Internet user’s intent and sentiment are uncertain and change from day to day, Abdallat says. Someone looking at toy-store Web sites might not be a toy collector but simply looking for a baby-shower gift, for example. Using Hunter, the programs can determine not just what Web sites were visited but the subject matter of specific content that was read.
Abdallat notes that companies like Amazon and Netflix are spending tens of millions of dollars annually to improve their recommendations to users, with mixed results. In 2014 Google spent $400 million to acquire Deep Mind, a company that hadn’t even created a product yet but employed some of the world’s foremost experts in a cutting-edge field of artificial intelligence known as “deep learning.”
“This is a market where artificial intelligence capability is taking a major role,” Abdallat says of the online media and advertising business. Companies are losing interest in billboards and print advertisements, and the only advertising sector that’s growing is digital marketing.
“With mobile devices, social networks, apps, that’s where consumers are now getting information, especially the highly coveted 18- to 32-year-old demographic,” he says. “And brands are demanding higher and higher return on investment.” Nonetheless, online advertising only averages around one click out of a thousand views. The surest way to boost that number is through better-targeted advertising, Abdallat says. “It’s an area looking for a solution because the industry is changing. We think the NASA technology can make a significant difference here.”
Abdallat says the work was only made possible by the considerable funding, research, and development on NASA’s part to create the original software. By early 2015, the company employed eight people and was just beginning its first commercial endeavors. “We have a product, and we’re working with three big companies to implement our capabilities into their solutions,” he says.
But NASA has also benefited from the partnership. According to the licensing agreement, the Agency is entitled to any improvements Beyond Limits makes to the software, and James says the company has made upgrades, particularly to SHINE, making it significantly more sophisticated.
“Their enhancements allow us to solve much more complex problems and pursue work we were previously unable to do,” James says.
JUNE 11, 2017 by Andrew Ward
Energy Editor BP has bought into artificial intelligence technology developed for space exploration as it joins growing interest among oil and gas companies in the use of big data to help find new resources. The UK group has invested in Californian start-up Beyond Limits, which is adapting software from Nasa, the US space agency, and the US Department of Defence, for commercial use. The deal, agreed last week, adds to signs that an industry associated with “roughneck” engineers hunting oil in far-flung locations with greasy drilling equipment is embracing digital technology. Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the largest independent US oil producers, said last month that it planned to use artificial intelligence to increase the chances of success when drilling wells.
In April, Eni, the Italian oil and gas major, announced that it had started operating a new super computer that Claudio Descalzi, chief executive, said would improve the accuracy of its seismic imaging and geological modelling. Live event What will we do when machines do everything? Join us on June 19th for a conversation about automation and what it means for the future world of work. More powerful imaging technology is giving oil companies greater visibility when carrying out seismic surveys of potential resources and this is combining with increasing computing power to analyse the resulting data. Software is also being used to improve the safety and reliability of existing production and refining infrastructure — aiding a broader industry push to increase efficiency since oil prices crashed three years ago. Morag Watson, chief digital innovation officer at BP, said artificial intelligence would be “one of the most critical digital technologies to drive new levels of performance” in the industry. The $20m investment in Beyond Limits will come from the group’s venture finance arm, BP Ventures. The US company aims to commercialise technology developed for “the robotic exploration of the solar system” at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Our goal is to create automated solutions that can think like humans and augment human capability AJ ABDALLAT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF BEYOND LIMITS
“Our goal is to create automated solutions that can think like humans and augment human capability,” said AJ Abdallat, chief executive of Beyond Limits.
In a speech earlier this year, Bernard Looney, director of BP’s exploration and production business, acknowledged that the oil industry had been slow to wake up to the opportunities of digital technology, but this was beginning to change. “We are now making up for lost time — fast,” he said. “Big data is revolutionising big oil.” Addressing investors last month, Chris Cheatwood, chief technology officer of Pioneer Natural Resources, said machine learning would make drilling more predictable. The aim was to get “to a point where it’s actually artificial intelligence that’s drilling our wells for us, with us observing,” he said. “So instead of, ‘hey, we drilled a record [low-cost] well for $3.5m and then we have a train wreck that’s $8m, we’ll start narrowing in on, hey, we’re averaging around $4.5m . . . for drilling a well’.”
By Tas Bindi | June 8, 2017 — 01:21 GMT (18:21 PDT) | Topic: Innovation
Beyond Limits, which is commercializing technology used by NASA and the US Department of Defense, has announced securing $20 million from sole investor BP Ventures.
The Series B round brings the total amount raised by the Pasadena, California-based artificial intelligence company to $25.5 million.
Developed in the labs of NASA’s Caltech deep space program, Beyond Limits’ AI software is 20 years in the making. The company said the technology has been “battle tested in deep space where there is zero margin for error” and is subsequently a lot faster than other AI technology in the market.
“It has been used in NASA for diagnostics of the NASA deep space network, for optimisation of Mars missions, and has even helped discover a weather model by tracking dust build and wind storm activity based on Mars rover battery and solar panel performance,” Beyond Limits’ CEO AJ Abdallat told ZDNet.
In 2012, the team behind Beyond Limits decided it was time to bring the technology back down to Earth, with the view that it can make a significant impact in industries such as energy, finance, health, logistics, manufacturing, and transportation.
“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,” Abdallat said.
Abdallat believes Beyond Limits’ AI is unique because it is not trained in a datacentre and then crashed 10,000 times in simulation for further training.
“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,” Abdallat said.
“Exploring space is about being able to handle the unknown. Real-world industrial-grade AI will need to do the same to truly become commercially viable at scale in critical industries.”
Beyond Limits is initially targeting the oil and gas industry, with the aim of providing “new levels of operational insight, business optimisation, and process automation”.
“Our technology benefits sectors where there are any people managing complex operations, especially where there are well-defined operational procedures and best practices. Our cognitive computing helps to improve decision velocity, decision quality, detects the unknown, and digitally assists with knowledge transfer from experts to other personnel,” Abdallat said.
“Oil and gas is one of the largest industrial segments and is a natural fit for our cognitive computing capability.”
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.
“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, said in a statement.
Abdallat said the new funding will be used to hire cognitive scientists, data scientists, software engineers, and sales staff to keep pace with the market demand.
In November last year, GE Oil & Gas announced it was launching Predictive Corrosion Management, a new tool for gathering continuous inspection data from pipes and cloud-based analytics of pipe conditions. Its “digital inspection” capabilities are powered by a combination of GE’s Rightrax ultrasonic sensors and the Predix operating system launched in 2015.
While the Predix platform did receive some criticism from research firm Lux Research, which said the platform had yet to live up to its potential and faced stiff competition from the likes of Cisco’s Jasper, C3 IoT, and Aeris, GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh told ZDNet last year that the Predix developer community, as well as its customers and partners, serve as “proof points” of its success.
Its customers and partners include BP, the Port of Los Angeles, Teledyne Controls, and Maersk Drilling.
08/14/2017 05:02 am ET Updated Aug 14, 2017
Vicky Law, Contributor: Freelance Writer | Content Marketer | Social Media Junkie
AI, machine learning, and the internet of things are rapidly permeating every aspect of our lives. Dubbed the “fourth industrial revolution”, it seems everywhere we turn companies are touting the AI capabilities of their products. Everything from self-driving cars to what shows up on Facebook newsfeeds are driven, in part, by artificial intelligence.
As AI rapidly exerts itself in every industry under the sun, it has also had to contend with the growing pains of an over eager market and a deeply complex technology. The popularity of AI is such that the term is in danger of becoming mere marketing parlance, with companies commandeering it to lend excitement and credence to their products. Everyone wants a piece of the AI pie – a pie estimated to be worth $100 billion by 2025.
Truly intelligent, adaptive, and cutting-edge AI technology is rare, but if any program has nurtured such technology, it would be NASA’s Deep Space program. For decades, the program has operated out of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where scientists have developed proven technology for unmanned robotics and space exploration missions.
In the most desolate of environments, these truly intelligent and autonomous AI systems have learned to analyze situations, think critically, and solve difficult problems with human-like reasoning. Now Caltech and NASA are ready to commercialize this technology. Southern California company, Beyond Limits, which was granted an exclusive license by Caltech to improve and commercialize this technology, recently closed a Series B of $20 million from BP Ventures, and is rapidly establishing itself as the leader in industrial-grade Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) software.
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According to Beyond Limits CEO AJ Abdallat, Artificial General Intelligence represents a massive shift from qualitative machine learning to a “bio-inspired” human-like cognition to understand, learn, reason and solve problems. Not just the rapid crunching of huge amounts of data that is the hallmark of many would-be AI solutions, but truly cognitive computing.
According to Abdallat, AGI is fast, lightweight, and flexible, without the huge amounts of server, power, and human resources requirement of current AI offerings. The smaller infrastructure and cost makes Beyond Limits’ AI solution more scalable than something like Watson or DeepMind.
In addition, Beyond Limits claims its AI can make 1.5 billion calculations per second, 50 times faster than the current market leader. It isn’t coupled to any core platform components, and its software requires a much smaller footprint and is deployable in the cloud, on a chip, or embedded in a device.
“Our technology has tested its mettle in space, which is exponentially more proven deployment than most AI technologies can claim,” says Abdallat. And it was in space that the core benefits of today’s Beyond Limits AI was honed.
“Space is at a premium for these unmanned missions, so this technology was made to be exceptionally light and efficient,” Abdallat explained. “In addition, on missions where the tiniest error can mean the scrapping of millions of dollars in R&D and years of work, failure of unmanned components is not an option. We can’t easily call back a rover that has already been deployed, so the AI had to be developed in such a way that it could solve even unexpected and unforeseen scenarios.” For almost two decades, all NASA missions have utilized the technology Beyond Limits is now introducing to a wider audience.
The industrial applications are numerous. As evidenced by BP’s investment, oil and gas exploration can see huge improvements aided by Beyond Limits’ software, helping locate and develop reservoirs, make unmanned repairs possible for dangerous maintenance, even manage operations at refineries.
Abdallat sees application in everything from transportation to healthcare to finance and beyond. “We are confident that the technology that allows Rovers to land, explore, and bring back information on faraway planets can help humans thrive here on earth. For decades, we’ve been promised an AI revolution, and Beyond Limits is finally fulfilling that promise.”
Dr. Manikanda Arunachalam Tapped to Lead the Transformation of Life Sciences
Sep 28, 2017, 08:45 ET
GLENDALE, Calif., Sept. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Beyond Limits (BL), an artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing company, today announced it has appointed Dr. Manikanda Arunachalam, Cardiologist and Venture Capital specialist, as its Senior Vice President for Corporate Development and Investments. Dr. Mani will lead Beyond Limits as it expands and adapts its technology for the healthcare and health tech space, bringing truly cognitive AI solutions to the sector via its Life Sciences platform.
Beyond Limits has appointed Dr. Manikanda Arunachalam, Cardiologist and Venture Capital specialist, as its Senior Vice President for Corporate Development and Investments
“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. Mani. “Beyond Limits Life Sciences will be an ideal partner for health systems, care plans, CRO’s, genomics companies and many other providers in digital health and healthcare Internet of Things.”
Dr. Mani is a multi-disciplinary professional with expertise in venture capital and private equity, specializing in medical devices, genomics, digital health and healthcare IOT. He is a partner in DS Investments, where he focuses on healthcare technology investments. In addition, he serves on the board of HD Medical Group and is a Strategic Advisor to Guardant Health. Prior to joining Beyond Limits, Dr. Mani served on the Board of Directors at the KEF Company, overseeing its multi-million dollar healthcare investment portfolio. In addition, Dr. Mani has served in key strategic and management roles at Capricorn Healthcare and Special Opportunities Fund, Motherhood India, and Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices.
Dr. Mani began his career as a Cardiologist and was one of the pioneers in conducting multinational clinical trials through his work as an investigator for Eli Lilly, Servier, and Covance. He holds an MD from the prestigious Madras Medical College and an MBA in Finance and Strategy from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed his Fellowship in Cardiology.
AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond Limits, said “Beyond Limits’ fast, agile, and cognitive AI technology is an ideal partner for the healthcare industry, where it can be adapted to numerous roles including patient care, data security, and automation of medical devices. With his combined strengths in business development and health technology, as well as strong clinical experience, Dr. Mani is the perfect person to lead our team as we expand into the healthcare space.”
Launched in 2014, Beyond Limits is a leader in AI and cognitive computing and was created to commercialize cutting edge IP developed by the team after over 20 years of success supporting NASA and the space program. With technologies proven in the unknown and extreme environment of space, Beyond Limits adapts and delivers AI software capable of tackling complex industrial and enterprise challenges with the benefits of mechanical automation and human-like reasoning. Beyond Limits recently announced a Series B investment with BP Ventures for $20 million.
About Beyond Limits
Beyond Limits is transforming proven space and defense technologies from NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense into innovative solutions to address large and emerging markets. These technologies were developed at Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) over the last two decades and were funded by NASA and the Department of Defense to address their complex and far-reaching problems. Beyond Limits leverages this existing R&D investment along with many of its own technologies to produce commercial products and solutions that are capable of addressing the emerging problems of AI today and beyond. For more information, please visit our website at www.beyond.ai.
Edward M. Yang
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SOURCE Beyond Limits