By Chuck Brooks | March 24, 2018
An interview with Gabby Menachem, CEO of Loom Systems, named by Gartner as a “Cool Vendor” in Artificial Intelligence
- Beyond the hype, what are the perils and promises of emerging cognitive technologies? More specifically, are artificial intelligence and machine learning something to fear or cultivate?
That's a great question that I encounter a lot, and I think it's also being fostered a lot by media and popular science. For example, the late Stephen Hawking has been a passionate advocate of the "AI will destroy humanity as we know it" theme, with the apocalyptic prediction that AI “could spell the end of the human race.”
But I think there's a huge and very common misconception on the meta-question of the 'Man vs. Machine' dispute, where I believe that should not be our focal point at all, rather we should be talking about a man and machine convergence, enabling each entity to maximize its potential and achieve things that alone cannot be done. Cognitive technologies can dramatically empower humanity to get ahead and make immense progress in a very wide range of areas. We simply need to get rid of fear and bias, which can be done through education.
The biggest promise I see in cognitive technology today is with intelligent automation. In many cases we encounter repetitive tasks done by humans since machines are hard to program to make decisions on unknown data. Examples span from smart filtering in recycling through Cyber defense, where in the latter the knowledge base that need to be applied to context is the hardest to put in software.
Building cognitive technologies enables this layer of intelligence which will ultimately lead to a higher degree of automation and easier application development – this is very exciting!
- In a data driven world, how fast is the industry moving toward cognitive recognition and automation and how will it impact our way of life?
In the past few years we've been seeing immense advancements in automations that span across every industry out there, and I think it's fascinating what cognitive sciences in general can do for entire verticals.
With the rise of big data in the last decade, data driven decision making and probability thinking is growing as a field with data scientist job demand. As the industry grows, we see that the shortage in human capital is not only a consequence of education focus, but mainly of skill and experience applying the academic methods to real life problems.
This is why in many cases the first place for cognitive recognition and automation is incorporating the methodologies of data science to big data – mimicking the thought process a human would do looking at the same data but with the diligence and speed of a computer.
The industry is applying this to use cases in different methods – from deep learning to rule based systems with changing parameters, but this is only the surface of what can be achieved. The future of cognitive computing will make decision making and knowledge systems use much easier and will empower humans in their day to day.
- Intelligent insights combined with real-time predictive analytics have taken the center stage in digital transformation. Can you offer a primer on the capabilities of both machine learning and artificial intelligence in play roles in this transformation?
The digital transformation impact is in its infancy. As the industry focus on the value of data derived from digital processes increases, we will see more intelligent use cases for ML and AI.
Today we see machine learning and AI applied to areas of customer interaction – like understanding customer behavior and trends automatically to optimize delivery, through customer experience – where ML and AI are used to track every customer journey and offer assistance or signal technical resources when a customer needs help, and last to internal operations, where the technology helps in optimizing performance and self-service by understanding the needs of employees.
The two areas I see AI play a huge role in 2018 are surfacing unknown patterns in data and solving the skills gap needed to address this new knowledge or insight. The capabilities around these problems are very well established in terms of technology, though a lot of work is to be done in packaging these capabilities to solve customer experience issues.
As AI adoption grows, I believe intelligent insights combined with predictive analytics will help drive the industry’s applications as this is where value is created from data we already collect and is the next step in capturing the value from this evolution.
- Against the backdrop of an increasingly interconnected world, with a growing attack surface of the Internet of Things, are there ways that artificial intelligence and machine learning help us be more cyber secure?
Machine learning is already being used to detect anomalies in large data sets in order to identify malicious behavior or malicious entities. There are two inherent challenges for ML in the service of cybersecurity that AI helps to solve:
The first one: Define what's normal - understanding what system changes are normal (such as seasonality) what truly is an anomaly. AI could understand what is truly normal and what is truly anomalous.
The second one is Context - just finding that something is anomalous isn't enough, we need to understand what happened and why. AI that truly understands the context of the event that unfolds instead of just alerting when it thinks something is weird is essential for cybersecurity.
Both of these fundamental challenges are handled by AI and help tackle cyber threats, even though and perhaps despite the fact that threats are becoming more apparent on one hand, and on the other more sophisticated and unknown.
- I note that your company Loom Systems has been name a "Cool Vendor" in AI by Gartner. Can you tell us what that means and also elaborate about your company's technological niche and capabilities in the cognitive space?
Yes, of course. Loom was Named a 2017 Gartner Cool Vendor in Performance Analysis. Gartner mentioned that our solution bridges advanced analytics and enhanced scalability to the availability and performance management market. Loom developed a cohesive Artificial intelligence-based solution designed to predict and prevent ongoing issues in complex IT environments, namely digital environments, enabling total awareness across these environments, and essentially delivering a smooth customer experience. Our vision is to assist digital leaders in analyzing data automatically to solve customer experience issues hidden from the business layer. We're literally connecting the dots between the business and IT operations within an organization.
With the CIO role becoming more business focused as the majority of revenue comes from digital systems, there needs to be a methodology to converge between the business impact and the systems operating the business. The best way we found this can be done is to enable real time analysis of data coming from these systems and have the experts in the organizations handle the intelligence layer – already telling them how the systems behavior impacts business and how to act.
Ultimately, this will lead to optimized decision making of people with AI assisted reasoning. This is the future of digital business.
Chuck Brooks is the Principal Market Growth Strategist -- Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies for General Dynamics Missile Systems. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn” out of their 500 million members. He has published more than 150 articles and blogs on cybersecurity and technology issues. In both 2017 and 2016, he was named “Cybersecurity Marketer of the Year by the Cybersecurity Excellence Awards. Chuck’s professional industry affiliations include being the Chairman of CompTIA’s New and Emerging Technology Committee, and as a member of The AFCEA Cybersecurity Committee. In government, Chuck has served at The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the first Legislative Director of The Science & Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security. He served as a top Advisor to the late Senator Arlen Specter on Capitol Hill covering security and technology issues on Capitol Hill. In academia, Chuck is an Adjunct Faculty member at Georgetown University in their Applied Intelligence Program was an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught a graduate course on homeland security for two years. He has an MA in International relations from the University of Chicago, a BA in Political Science from DePauw University, and a Certificate in International Law from The Hague Academy of International Law.
Gabby Menachem is CEO, Loom Systems https://www.loomsystems.com/about-us Gabby brings over 15 years of technology innovation and entrepreneurship experience to Loom Systems. Gabby was previously co-founder and CTO of Voyager Analytics, a product that analyzes social network data with a range of customers that include leading financial institutions. Prior to that, Gabby served as GM and VP R&D in a microwave engineering startup.