Beyond Limits developed the Beyonders internship program in 2018, an immersive experience for undergraduate and graduate students that seeks to help them discover their beyond. The success and value of this program are undeniable, with consistent year-over-year class growth. However, as the coronavirus pandemic heightened near the start of the internship, we were left wondering how the program would evolve and survive in a very different working world.
As many employers were caught off guard during the onset of the pandemic, Beyond Limits also faced new challenges as stay-at-home mandates took effect throughout California. Navigating a virtual internship was something Beyond Limits hadn’t necessarily considered before. It was difficult to imagine how we could replicate the various facets of our in-office culture in this new normal. While it was stressful for the weeks and days leading up to the program’s start, we couldn’t have been more thrilled with the results. 
Leading Up to the Internship
Prior to our new stay-at-home reality, the Beyond Limits Recruiting team worked diligently on hiring interns for a variety of positions in Software Engineering, Data Science, Product Strategy, and other departments. We also took this opportunity to expand the reach and scope of the program by recruiting international interns that would spend the summer in Los Angeles during the 10-week program. However, as COVID-19 swept the nation in March, we were unsure of what exactly to do with that portion of the program. We felt a responsibility to let our potential interns know there was a possibility that we would be unable to host them for the summer.
Simultaneously, countless undergraduate and graduate students across the nation had their internship offers rescinded by many corporations. Internship opportunities were decreasing, blocking young professionals from having the hands-on experience of developing and refining their skills for future careers. Beyond Limits leadership felt a responsibility to provide opportunities for future professionals to experience working on real projects and delivering results. To our core, Beyond Limits thrives off the diverse perspectives of our employees, including the fresh ideas of interns.
Once the rest of our Beyond Limits team adjusted to working remotely and understood that this would be the new normal for a long time, we started discussing how we could continue with the Beyonders program this year. It was less a matter of if we could implement a successful virtual internship and more about figuring out how we could demonstrate Beyond Limits’ inherently fun and collaborative environment to our interns. Once we had a plan set in motion, we then proceeded with recruitment efforts and locked in 19 summer interns for the 2020 program. 
How We Adapted
In moving forward with a virtual internship, we wanted to make the program as similar to an in-person experience as we possibly could. We did this with a range of new and reoccurring, initiatives to make the Beyonders feel like they were genuinely a part of the company. 
Every year we pair interns with executive and employee mentors who guide the Beyonders through their projects, their work within the program itself, and their professional journeys. This initiative helped contribute to the development of our Beyonders and allowed them to interact with many members of the Beyond Limits team. Additionally, we added “Welcome Buddies” this year to enhance the onboarding experience and mitigate any unforeseen issues that may arise in the virtual setting. We paired interns with various employees whom the Beyonders could turn to and ask any questions they may not feel comfortable asking a manager or mentor. Both of these experiences provided interns with opportunities to interact with different company professionals, both inside and outside of his or her assigned department.
Professional development sits at the core of Beyond Limits’ values, and we felt it was imperative to continue nurturing that principle with our Beyonders via a variety of virtual events. We wanted to provide the opportunity for Beyonders to interact with several executives in the company that could share their distinguished career experiences, alongside their advice for best practices in the field as well. We hosted Lunch & Learn sessions, where various C-level executives spoke candidly to the Beyonders about their own professional backgrounds and training. Learning & Development meetings were also leveraged to help the Beyonders adapt to the virtual work environment with practical information, such as how to best handle presentations on Zoom. 
We also launched “Game Lunch” where all Beyond Limits employees could come together once a week to interact and play different games, like trivia. A time filled with countless laughs, Beyonders experienced the energetic and dynamic culture that we enjoy within our in-office environment. The Recruiting team recognized that it was important for the interns to also connect with one another, as a class of Beyonders that were going through similar experiences and may need a sounding board for their ideas. For this reason, we created “Couch Time,” where our Beyonders also had the opportunity to connect once a week. This initiative replicated a popular in-office intern experience where Beyonders would gather at the Kiva and share their experiences from the week.
What We Accomplished
Although many organizations were forced to cancel their internship programs, Beyond Limits felt that it was more important than ever to offer students an experience that would help them further develop their skills during this critical time, albeit in a virtual setting. In fact, we ended up taking this opportunity to expand the program internationally, bringing on an internship cohort that consists of a diverse group of students from various schools all over the world. Not only did we seamlessly convert the entire program into a virtual setting, but our Beyonders were able to accomplish a great deal over the course of their experience. From preparing solutions that optimize our products to migrating data in our new accounting software. We couldn’t be more proud of the success of our Beyonders 2020 virtual internship.
3 September 2020
Los Angeles, CA
Authors: Samira Modaressi & Taffy Shih


On theme with the rest of 2020, our Beyonders internship program this summer was different, to say the least. However, one thing that didn’t change was the drive and determination of our interns. We brought on 19 stellar Beyonders in various positions who helped support and drive innovation for the company.

Take a look at the highlights of the 2020 Beyonders internship program:



27 August 2020
Los Angeles, CA


AI has the potential to transform how our education system operates while creating more support for teachers and students of all backgrounds.

Among its many benefits, AI can even be utilized to help educators foster a more inclusive environment. AI-based language translation, for example, may enable more students with diverse backgrounds to feel more comfortable participating in class and increase opportunities for closer listening during important lectures.

Schools can even use AI to offer a truly personalized learning experience, overcoming one of the biggest limitations of our current, one-to-many education model.

The benefits of implementing AI in education are limitless. At Beyond Limits, we aim to develop AI that is both accessible and beneficial for our future generations. Watch the video below to see how: 





26 August 2020
Glendale, CA
The Future of AI in Energy: How Cognitive AI Delivers More Value from Complex Assets
Recent challenges have impacted the Energy industry, revealing costly operational inefficiencies. Operators are quickly realizing an immediate need to optimize operations and get the most out of their assets in order to maintain a competitive edge. Advanced AI & digitization strategies provide opportunities for operators to be better positioned for the future by capturing full margins and increasing production from existing assets.
In this webinar our experts will show you:

+ How AI is being applied today in Energy to increase operational efficiency and reduce operating costs.

+ What exactly Cognitive AI is and how it reduces the loss of institutional knowledge due to attrition.

+ Crucial insights into how AI strategies can both help during these unprecedented times and ultimately deliver more value to the bottom line.


Interested? Watch our webinar below to get started: 

13 August 2020
Los Angeles, CA


There are currently over 1 billion people living with no access to energy, while an additional 2 billion remain without access to clean energy.

In some areas of the world, the Energy industry is decades behind when it comes to grid electricity or access to cleaner resources.

One of the most significant barriers to energy access is the steep upfront cost for low-income populations, limiting the potential for vital strides in economic growth. Many countries also face the challenge of intermittent grid connectivity because the demand for energy often exceeds the capacity of existing power generation sources.

While these challenges do make the distribution of clean and reliable energy in rural areas difficult, Beyond Limits is confident that Cognitive AI technology will help us make headway in accelerating global access to energy.



Learn more about AI for Power & Natural Resources. 



Updated: 28 August 2020
Los Angeles, CA


This year, Beyond Limits’ internship program has been unique, to say the least. While the pandemic certainly created some logistical and proximity challenges, we pressed on with the 2020 Beyonders Internship program regardless. We had an irresistible opportunity to bring on a bright and diverse group of both undergraduate and graduate students from across the world, contributing to a variety of roles and departments within Beyond Limits.

Over the course of this internship program, our Beyonders have made valuable progress on their projects, and we wanted to highlight their experiences and skill-sets.

Introducing the Beyonders 2020 Spotlight Series: 


Name: Lasse Nordahl

School: University of California, Irvine

Degree/Major: Computer Science

Position: Software Engineering Intern 

Why did you choose to spend your summer interning at Beyond Limits?

I interned at Beyond Limits last summer, and some of my favorite memories were building cool software and goofing around with other interns. I felt that the memories I made at Beyond Limits are some of the best. Even a year after my Beyond Limits experience, I’m still in contact with fellow interns, and I’ll never forget some of the moments we had just sitting in the Kiva. Even though this year is remote, we’re still interacting in the same ways, only now the Kiva is our Zoom calls. 

How would you describe your internship experience?

I’d describe the internship as fast-paced, especially since the project I am working on is still in the relatively early engineering stages. Getting to work on a new project was my favorite experience from this summer. I feel it’s a unique and enticing goal to build and work on something that can pivot quickly or handle unknown requirements. It’s been an amazing experience to contribute to something so new. A lot of ground-up structuring and architecture were developed over the course of my internship. It’s been fun to see tickets get completed and eventually deployed to cloud services end to end. Overall, this has been a very positive experience since first joining the onboarding Zoom call in early June.

How has this experience shaped or impacted your career goals? What was the most beneficial experience for you?

Getting to work on projects closer to Data Science had a tremendous impact on where I want to go with my career. I realized that there is a lot more interdisciplinary work than I previously thought existed. In the future, I’d like to work on both the Data Science and Software Engineering sides simultaneously. Going to requirements meetings and hearing the end to end goals of the project on a smaller team helped contribute a lot to that excitement.



Name: Samira Modaressi

School: University of Southern California

Degree/Major: Master of Business Administration

Position: Digital Marketing Graduate Intern

Tell us about a project you are working on during your internship?

This summer, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the entire Marketing department, aiding all of their efforts on various projects. My primary assignment has been managing our social media accounts. On a daily basis, I audit the social communities for AI, tech, energy, and more to generate social posts that drive awareness. Additionally, I handle community engagement and management to drive user engagement and brand credibility.

What were your thoughts surrounding COVID-19 and the Internship program?

Thinking back to April and May, there were so many unknowns. I was nervous I would not have the opportunity to participate in a summer internship, a staple part of the MBA experience. While some of the largest companies were rescinding their internship offers, I was wary when Beyond Limits assured me that the internship would be moving forward with a remote program. To my surprise, not only did the program happen, but it’s been more than I could even expect. While I am sure this is a different experience than I would have had in an office setting, the Beyond Limits team has done a fantastic job making me feel like an included contributor to the company.

What is the most exciting or unexpected thing you have experienced at Beyond Limits?

It’s remarkable how many employees across the organization care about getting to know the interns and imparting their knowledge. From our CEO to the newest member of the Software Engineering team, a lot of amazing and brilliant people have made the time to speak with me. In fact, each Beyonder was paired with a mentor within the company, and mine has been our COO! This is a true testament to how valued the Beyonders program is from the very top.


Posted: 24 August 2020


Name: Michael Hintlian         

School: University of Southern California

Degree/Major: PhD Industrial and Systems Engineering

Position: Data Science Intern

How have you been able to apply some of your learning from school to your internship?

In school, I work on building models to help understand the best treatment or intervention to give a patient that might have cancer. I am constantly using statistical and machine learning tools to gather insights about the way the world works by using data. At Beyond Limits, I have been encouraged to use the same approach. 

What is the most exciting or unexpected thing you have experienced at Beyond Limits?

At the risk of sounding cliché, it is the people.  Everyone is brilliant, engaged in their work and the work of others, and eager to help. It makes it a great environment to learn and grow as an employee.

How has this experience shaped or impacted your career goals? What was the most beneficial experience for you?

I have had the opportunity to take the lead on several projects and work with others to improve their projects. My team has also been very flexible with the type of projects I have been assigned. They’ve allowed me to work on projects that interest me and have actively sought out projects that they thought might intrigue me and brought them to my attention.

What advice do you have for other students considering an internship with Beyond Limits?




Name: Cole Christie

School: University of Southern California

Degree/Major: Master of Business Administration

Position: MBA Product Strategy Intern 

How would you describe your internship experience?

My internship experience has been great. I enjoy the people I am working with and am learning a lot. For my project, I am helping Beyond Limits assess current market opportunities. My co-intern (Rebecca) and I have learned a lot about product-market identification and how to use data to tell stories. Together we have come up with recommended use cases for the Beyond Limits approach and will have the opportunity to share those with the leadership team.

How have you been able to apply some of your learnings from school to your internship?

A running joke in business school is that you will learn more frameworks than you will be able to use, but this position is giving that joke a run for its money. This internship is structured in a way that utilizes those exact skills we build in school and has been a great way to engage with the material I have been learning. There has not been a day during this internship that I haven’t thought back to one of my strategy courses.

Why did you choose to spend your summer interning at Beyond Limits?

There are two reasons. 1- AI is something I am really interested in and wanted to learn more about. 2- I wanted to take the summer to develop some of the skills I have picked up in my MBA. This has been a perfect fit.

What advice do you have for other students considering an internship with Beyond Limits?

Spend some time in two areas. First, refine the value that this internship will bring. What value will you bring to Beyond Limits and what value does spending the summer with Beyond Limits bring to you? Be really clear about that and many other pieces will fall into place. The second piece is to do your homework and research ahead of time. Reach out to previous interns, read the company news, and be proactive about all of that. If you have done this, you will greatly improve your chances of being a part of this team.


Posted: 19 August 2020


Name: Yong Do Kim  

School: Stanford University

Degree/Major: Ph.D./Energy Resources Engineering

Position: Data Science Intern

Tell us about a project you are working on during your internship?

My internship project has provided me the opportunity to get exposed to the areas that I was not familiar with before and to apply recent technologies in deep learning. This summer, I have been preparing a solution to optimize industrial applications, specifically with the stochastic seismic inversion process. 

What were your thoughts surrounding COVID-19 and the internship program?

I appreciate that the Beyond Limits leadership team decided to have a virtual internship program when a lot of companies are actively rescinding offers due to COVID-19. I can see that Beyond Limits put tremendous effort into making this virtual internship successful by hosting many different types of virtual meetings for Beyonders.

Why did you choose to spend your summer interning at Beyond Limits?

 A big draw for me is that Beyond Limits is well known for symbolic AI. Also, Beyond Limits is expanding its project scope. It is exciting to see that the company is continually growing in terms of project scope, revenue, and size. Those factors provide me with the confidence that Beyond Limits has an ideal environment for me. I knew that I would be trained to be a competitive data scientist, and I could use my knowledge and skills to tackle challenging projects. 



Name: Kruthi Annigeri

School: University of Southern California

Degree/Major: B.S./M.S. Chemical Engineering

Position: Chemical Engineer Intern

How would you describe your internship experience?

Thus far, my primary project has been developing a predictive viscosity model that can closely approximate lubricant mixtures’ properties, such as kinematic and dynamic viscosity. I have enjoyed using my chemical engineering background to contribute to Beyond Limits’ cognitive formulation solution, as I hadn’t previously thought about artificial intelligence as an application for chemical engineering. While I have worked in an agile development setting before, I am new to working on the product side and have enjoyed learning about technology through that lens.

What is the most exciting or unexpected thing you have experienced at Beyond Limits?

I remember having friends and mentors tell me that working at a startup would be fast-paced and multifarious, but I only fully understood that when I began this internship. I have had the opportunity to step out of my chemical engineering background many times, and the work I am doing feels extremely important every day.

Even just among the interns, I have learned many new things about technology and software, and I have been able to share some of my on-campus research and knowledge about chemical engineering as well. Every person I encounter at this company has a wealth of knowledge that overlaps very little with my own. While my assigned mentor at Beyond Limits is an HR Business Partner, my manager has a computational mechanics/engineering background. It’s a stimulating environment that challenges me to think in new ways, more than I ever thought possible.

 How has this experience shaped or impacted your career goals?

Coming from a family of Software Engineers and having decided in high school that I did not want to pursue a career in software development, I have spent a good amount of college shying away from opportunities that scream “tech” while immersing myself more in physical science and laboratory research. However, at Beyond Limits, I have realized that data science, as a nascent and burgeoning field, is a subject I’m finding myself more drawn towards. I am already working toward earning my Master’s in Chemical Engineering, but if my program allows, I want to pursue more data science-related courses as well. Beyond Limits is a company with a unique environment; it’s a startup with projects that present a particular intersection of my chemical engineering background with Cognitive AI. This alone has made me want to work on more interdisciplinary projects.


Posted: 17 August 2020


Name: Tori Spiegel

School: University of California, Irvine

Degree/Major: BS, Computer Science and Engineering

Position: Software Engineer Intern

What is the most exciting or unexpected thing you have experienced at Beyond Limits?

Aside from being exposed to new languages and toolkits, this internship has given me the invaluable experience of working with highly skilled technical professionals and improving my communication skills. One of the most exciting things has been how much Beyond Limits cares about its interns. I have enjoyed our Lunch & Learns, which have allowed us to meet and pose questions to C-level Executives.

I’ve enjoyed the sense of community I’ve felt at Beyond Limits and my time here has shown me that I don’t want to just be another wheel in the cog at a big corporation. The most beneficial experience has been talking to my mentors about their past experiences and the lessons they’ve learned.

What were your thoughts surrounding COVID-19 and the internship program?

Going into this remote internship, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the same interpersonal connections that would typically come about in an office environment. While it is unfortunate that we could not meet in the office, I still feel like I have been given a lot of opportunities to get to know the other interns and professionals at Beyond Limits through technical speaker functions and other social events. One of my favorite activities is game lunch, which I look forward to every week.

Why did you choose to spend your summer interning at Beyond Limits?

In my interviews with my current manager and Recruitment, they both shared how Beyond Limits employees have a great sense of pride in their work and can switch between projects to learn about a new technology peaking their interests. What made me want to spend my summer at Beyond Limits was the passion they had when talking about their work and the company. I also admired the flexibility Beyond Limits permits its employees because it would allow for more growth and help me make the most out of my time.

What advice do you have for other students considering an internship with Beyond Limits?

This internship is full of opportunities, and you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes and turn them into lessons learned. You’re encouraged to ask questions whenever you have them. The mentors are patient, understanding, and reassure you that there is no such thing as a “stupid” question. This encouragement to ask questions ensures you’ll get up to speed on the project faster.



Name: Omar Al-Tamimi

School: German Jordanian University, Jordan

Degree/Major: BS, Mechatronics Engineering

Position: Data Science Intern

How has this experience shaped or impacted your career goals? What has been the most beneficial experience for you?

During my interviews, I had stated that I would like to work on more classical approaches to problems that didn’t revolve around Deep Learning since I already have much experience on that topic. Beyond Limits has given me an opportunity to work on a project that allows me to think outside of the Deep Learning box and more about alternative approaches to certain problems.

What is the most exciting or unexpected thing you have experienced at Beyond Limits?

After COVID-19 engulfed the world and started to spread quickly in the USA, I assumed that the internship program would be canceled, especially since I am from Jordan and would have to fly over, which was impossible due to the flight limitations. Suddenly I get a message stating that the internship was going remote, which came out of left field. It saddens me that I couldn’t meet with the other interns in person. It would have been exciting to visit the company’s office, to be enveloped within the full Beyond Limits experience. However, the HR team at Beyond Limits have been working hard (and succeeding) at providing us with a really good time during our internship.

What advice do you have for other students considering an internship with Beyond Limits?

Borrowing the words of Shia LaBeouf: “Just do it.” There will be no better experience than this. You will be able to gain a lot of experience, both in your own field and beyond, with tons of enjoyable moments alongside the rest of the Beyond Limits team.


Posted: 06 August 2020


Name: Ben Sorochuk

School: University of Washington

Degree/Major: BS, Chemical Engineering

Position: Process Engineer Intern

Why did you choose to spend your summer interning at Beyond Limits?

I’m fascinated by oil refining because of its complexity; you’ll never get bored. I specifically chose Beyond Limits because they play a unique, fascinating role in oil refining. I’m able to fulfill my interest in the refining industry while participating in the development of innovative AI solutions that can assist my fellow chemical engineers working in refineries.

How has this experience shaped or impacted your career goals?

This experience has reinforced my interest in oil refining. It’s a very complex industry – there’s always more to learn with new challenges that keep things exciting. The internship has been a time of challenge, growth, and adaptability. I’ve learned a lot about how refineries work and have grown as a problem solver. Additionally, the challenge of working remotely has helped me recognize my preference for working with people in a more socially interactive office setting.

How have you been able to apply some of your learning from school to your internship?

Knowing separation process fundamentals has been very beneficial, particularly for distillation. Oil refining demands comprehensive knowledge from many chemical engineering fundamentals, like heat transfer, thermodynamics, reactions, etc. Knowing these concepts is important for practicing good engineering judgment when optimizing a process or reacting to an issue.



Name: Natalie Salinas

School: California State University, Fullerton

Degree/Major: BA Business, Accounting Concentration

Position: Accounting Intern

Tell us about a project you are working on during your internship?

My internship here at Beyond Limits has been nothing short of an amazing learning experience. I’ve been taught so many new skills that will prove to be useful in my future career. One of my main projects during this internship has been to migrate data to our new accounting software. This has involved several processes, such as formatting data into specific journal entry templates to allow for a smooth import. Additionally, I created manual journal entries into this new system to record bank transactions from prior months and ensured balances of different accounts matched the old system’s to ensure everything was recorded accurately.

What has been the most beneficial experience for you?

In school, I’ve always enjoyed the logical, analytical, and generally detailed aspects of accounting; however, I’ve never had the opportunity to work with real data before in order to truly know that this is the right career path for me. This internship experience has only further solidified my plans for a future career in accounting.

What advice do you have for other students considering an internship with Beyond Limits?

I would say not to feel intimidated, just go for it. The size of the company has allowed for a close-knit culture where everyone is there for each other. Even as an intern, you feel like you truly are a contributing member of the team. I would recommend an internship at Beyond Limits to anyone who is considering the opportunity.



30 July 2020
Los Angeles, CA


Can AI be trusted? Not unlike human to human relationships, human trust in AI solutions must also be earned over time. One way we gain trust is a direct result of something, or someone, behaving in a manner that’s expected or familiar and thus comforting. However, much like humans, AI systems can also make similar mistakes that stem either from limitations in training or unknown ingrained biases.

As artificial intelligence continues to progress, we must also correspondingly advance the measures put in place that address responsibility and transparency. Beyond Limits’ transparent AI solutions are always auditable, providing clear insights into their decision-making process and exactly how they arrive at their recommendations. Explainability is the answer to responsible AI that ensures humans are always in the loop. Beyond Limits provides users with a straightforward solution they can understand, leading to AI that’s both trusted and valued.

In our latest installment of Beyond the Buzz, our CEO & Founder – AJ Abdallat explores our responsibility to ensure humans have access to AI they can trust.



Learn more about explainable AI. 



14 July 2020
Los Angeles, CA


Artificial Intelligence. A technology that numerous companies want to implement, yet they still haven’t taken the first step. Why is that?

AI is being praised for its amazing capacity to transform businesses. Yet, many are still hesitant to implement AI strategies due to varying challenges they’ll likely need to address before realizing the true potential of this technology.

Most of these challenges can be attributed to either a lack of understanding, little experience working with AI, fear of change, or even AI stereotypes we see depicted in Hollywood films. Collectively amongst people and businesses, Artificial Intelligence seems to garner both enthusiasm and skepticism.

In this Beyond The Buzz series installment, our CEO, AJ Abdallat discusses some of the centralized challenges that businesses face when implementing AI into their corporation.

Learn what these challenges are and how to overcome them so your business can advance by using Artificial Intelligence.



Head to our technology page to see if our AI is the right fit for your business. 



25 June 2020
Glendale, CA
There are currently 700 programming languages. It’s no wonder there are numerous approaches to AI.
Many companies today have championed conventional AI approaches such as data analytics, machine learning, and deep learning. But we need to go further if we’re going to solve the world’s most complex problems.
In this Beyond The Buzz video, our CEO; AJ Abdallat, explains why Beyond Limits’ techniques are different from 99% of the conventional approaches used by many companies today. By leveraging cutting-edge AI advancements, we’re able to take that next leap forward to introduce cognitive (or “human-like”) reasoning.
Our Cognitive AI technology has the ability to understand real-world contexts. Even with insufficient or missing data, the system is able to learn and advise people, leading to more informed decision-making and improved performance for your business. Our approach to artificial intelligence not only leverages every layer in the AI stack, but amplifies the capabilities of people, empowering them to take meaningful actions using expert knowledge.


Learn more about our Cognitive AI technology here.



11 June 2020
Glendale, CA


Beyond Limits originates out of a proud heritage from the unmanned space program and upholds high technology standards from our roots at Caltech NASA/JPL. We have an industrious mission to provide next-generation technology for the advancement of people and planet.

Taking artificial intelligence to the next level is Beyond Limits’ specialty. We are confident in our ability to solve complex problems for high-value industries, because our technology was developed to endure harsh environments, from deep space to subsurface.

As in space, many companies on earth have similar needs for mission-critical systems with acute situational awareness in real-time, predictive analytics, domain expertise at the edge, and instantaneous human-like reasoning to make informed decisions and take meaningful action. This is why Beyond Limits was created.



Want to learn more about our space heritage? Visit our About Page


21 May 2020
Glendale, CA


Our CEO and Founder, AJ Abdallat has always been fascinated with the wonders of space. Coupled with his parent’s support, he decided to pursue an education in engineering with aspirations of one-day building technology that could accomplish something as great as the moon landing, which inspired him when he was 8 years old. 
AJ’s career journey brought him a step closer to the space program when he started working with Caltech, NASA/JPL. AJ led the organization’s technology transfer program with the goal of bringing space technology to industries on Earth.
In 2014, AJ founded Beyond Limits as a Caltech portfolio company to commercialize technology developed for the unmanned space program, and use that technology to tackle some of the most difficult problems facing industries today.
Want to start your career journey with Beyond Limits? Visit our Careers page.
12 May 2020
Glendale, CA
Alyssa Cotrina, Beyond Limits


Technology can push the boundaries of what reasoning is or isn’t acceptable within the rationale of the human brain. A “system” has no inherent morals outside of those its human engineers can synthesize and program. Artificial intelligence technologies are no different, and arguably more crucial when it comes to having a discussion around the topic of moral competency within the minds of machines. When the main purpose of burgeoning tech is to emulate human reasoning, those in the process of innovating such solutions shouldn’t take the responsibility lightly when deciding which points-of-view will be represented.


Human nature (and nurture) dictate that we grow up forming opinions, and the more dangerous cousin of opinion, bias. However, most humans have also evolved to maintain their own personal set of ethics that go along with those opinions and biases. Machines have not achieved such a feat. Such a scenario is termed: Artificial General Intelligence, also known as AGI or Strong AI – which commonly relates to the most detrimental AI cliché you often see in sci-fi movies like The Terminator, The Matrix, Ex Machina, and more.


AGI refers to AI that is evolved to the point where its intelligence is equal to or better than a human’s. Fortunately, experts are not generally concerned about a scenario where our creations suddenly decide the time has come to destroy their human counterparts.



What are the Concerns?

More important issues emerge when the teams developing artificial intelligence solutions are homogenous and insular in nature. Humanity encompasses a great many perspectives and backgrounds from all over the planet with varying experiences, upbringings, and knowledge-bases. It’s vital for those teams working on AI solutions to represent that reality both amongst themselves and within the technology itself. Artificial intelligence must be as diverse and inclusive as the humans innovating it claim to be so that it represents all of us as it evolves and not just the biases of those select few with exclusive access to an elite education. Diverse collaboration amongst developers of AI (and all technology) is an imperative component.


Other concerns revolve around how we choose to evolve artificial intelligence and how we decide to use it. The hope is that AI will be used for beneficial purposes – to help solve the big issues that are plaguing human life on this planet. We cannot guarantee this is what humans will do with the technology. However, moves have been made in the industry to help ensure we are on the right track to reassuring that AI will do more to heal than harm. Numerous agencies, committees, coalitions, and expert groups have been formed to do exactly that. One example includes the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems that put out Ethically Aligned Design, a publication from 2016 that does a great job at outlining guiding standards when it comes to ethically developing and administering AI solutions.


“AI will most certainly make its way into the majority of industries,” says Meghan Sharp, Beyond Limits COO. “But what we really want to ensure is that AI is doing good for the planet. This technology is a mighty tool; let’s wield it to help solve our most important problems. Let’s use this incredibly powerful tool to address sustainability and climate change; let’s use it to more effectively determine how exactly we’re consuming our most vital resources. AI for good.”


Societal Impact & Human Lives at Stake

Situations where entrusting human lives (and livelihood) to artificial intelligence is of critical importance:

+  Healthcare solutions must take into account all varying patient’s predispositions, backgrounds, and genetics.

+  Autonomous/self-driving car algorithms must be built to ensure safety for the human life inside is at the forefront of every critical maneuver.

+  Financial/lender qualifying data solutions must look outside the scope of “typical” or “acceptable” demography when determining applicant approvals.

+  Educational opportunity/admission acceptance tools must not default to overgeneralized statistical data when considering student submissions from across the globe.

+  Judicial court cases/sentencing verdict systems must look past subjective statistical data that can unfairly categorize minorities into serving longer sentences.

+  Surveillance applications must not internalize gathered data too broadly or have too narrow a scope when executing observations of subjects. They also must not take liberties with how much information is collected or infringe on subjects’ privacies.


“I believe that AI is going to be to my children what the internet was for me; completely disruptive and change our entire world,” says Sharp. “AI will fundamentally alter the way industries operate today, as well as how we communicate and engage with one another and the world around us. It’s so critical to have the brightest and most diverse minds working on that problem together.”


The Transparency of XAI Can Help

Trust, accessibility and accountability are key. There is an urgency for artificial intelligence that provides an inside look into its own systems’ reasoning process. Solely machine learning and deep learning-centric solutions do not generally provide insight into their recommendations, thus making them black boxes. Beyond Limits Cognitive AI solutions break through the opaque walls of that box with a pioneering Explainable AI (XAI) glass box.


In this way, humans are always in the loop. People always have control over the system, with full visibility and insight into the decision-making process behind its recommendations via detailed and interactive audit trails. Human trust in AI grows when users have a sustained capability to access every step of the process, hold the system accountable, and immediately intervene if its “moral compass” starts slipping onto rocky terrain.


AI has no constitutional cognizance of “ethical conduct” outside of what humans can attempt to codify into the technology. This is a problematic notion at best because it’s seemingly difficult for mankind to agree on almost anything – including the five ethical principles of AI: transparency, justice and fairness, non-maleficence, responsibility, and privacy. When it comes down to conscientious policy creation, it can be a challenge to get people to align on the exact definition/meaning behind even those basic ideals. So, instead of fearing the hypothetical repercussions of artificial intelligence “taking over,” it would be a more beneficial practice to alternatively view AI as an outlet of opportunity for humans from varying backgrounds to finally come together, find common ground, and discuss how we want humanity’s greatest creation to represent us.