By Shazir Mucklai
I’ve been keeping track of small business technology trends for five years. I’ve used automation, data analysis, and consumer applications to help increase productivity because nowadays, it’s almost impossible to follow all the new technology updates. Plenty of companies are racing to create the next self-driving car or talking smart speaker. And it’s hard to keep track of trendy blockchain companies that launch almost daily.
However, one artificial intelligence (AI) might just be the biggest technological breakthrough in this era. We’ve heard about chatbots and machine learning, but one organization is charting its own course as it takes AI to the next level: Beyond Limits. It’s an appropriate name, since the company is producing AI that just might have a bigger effect in the world than conventional AI approaches you may have heard of. After all, there’s no other AI company on earth whose technology has been to Mars – helping the Rover navigate 150 million miles away – and deep underground, helping visualize 15,000 feet below the earth’s surface for energy exploration.
The company's technology is an evolutionary leap beyond conventional "machine" AI to a human-like ability to perceive, understand, correlate, learn, teach, and reason to solve problems that can’t be addressed by conventional AI solutions. The company’s solutions can handle situations where data is nonexistent, missing, damaged, or unreliable, and yet decisions still need to be made. This means Beyond Limits can solve problems that conventional machine learning or deep learning approaches alone cannot. Unlike “black box” machine learning solutions that cannot explain their results, Beyond Limits redefines AI because its technology provides clear explanations of its cognitive reasoning in transparent, evidence-based audit trails.
I’ve seen robots make decisions and solve simple problems. You probably see them too, but don’t realize it. Every day, technology helps people spellcheck sentences, categorize emails, and predict traffic. However, Beyond Limits is producing AI software solutions with something new: cognitive intelligence. These advanced systems mimic functions of the human brain to think like you or me. This AI foster situational awareness, hypotheses generation, and human-like reasoning to make informed decisions. Unlike some AI companies that focus on playing games or serving ads, Beyond Limits blends deep learning and machine learning techniques together with symbolic AIs that emulate human intuition. The company’s goal is to create automated solutions that can truly think like humans and magnify human capabilities to help companies stay competitive or transform their business for the future.
Because of the company’s close ties to Caltech and JPL, Beyond Limits has a deep well of specialized software that can be applied to solve complex problems. So if a major container port needs AI to plan and schedule all the traffic in and out of the harbor, or manage their fleet of robotic cranes, Beyond Limits can apply the same scheduling technology that powered autonomous Rover operations on Mars.
- “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 AJ Abdallat, Beyond Limits CEO. "Exploring space is about being able to handle the unknown. Real-world, industrial-grade AI needs to do the same to handle business issues at scale, across different industries — that’s exactly what we’re doing at Beyond Limits."
Beyond Disruption to Transformation
I’ve seen firsthand how AI can dramatically change businesses for the better. Its impact is becoming evident as it helps transform niche market segments and global industries alike — including energy production, logistics, and finance.
Beyond Limits has partnered with BP to help transform the energy industry. BP Ventures, the investment wing of the energy leader, signaled its faith in Beyond Limits with a $20 million Series B in the company in 2017. BP plans on using cognitive computing to optimize the way the company manages reservoirs and produces oil and gas.
Large enterprises aren’t the only ones that benefit from AI. Complex AI systems aren’t simple products like packaged software applications. Most solutions are custom-engineered to solve particular problems, mainly for large enterprises. As a result, AI may not be purchased directly by small or medium business owners, and may in fact be invisible to most people. For example, AI helps me and many other filter spam, automate messages, and track costs. More advanced AI might help me make complex decisions about spending, strategy, and hiring. It’s easy to overlook these minor tasks, but behind the scenes they are producing results that help people and companies in many ways.
When things work better, everyone benefits.
I’ve talked before about how technology helps my business run smoothly. Automating social media saves me 25 hours a week. Blockchain ensures my workers get paid on time. As nice as these are, one can only imagine how AI might help accelerate my company.
When AI helps major container ports work more efficiently, unloading container ships in a more timely fashion, small and medium businesses get their shipments on time, the entire value chain is more reliable, and everyone saves money.
When AI helps energy companies wring new production out of mature subsurface reservoirs, or identifies accurately where to drill, the cost of energy production drops, so oil and gas cost less, benefiting everyone who delivers goods, heats or cools their business.