SparkCognition was founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur and inventor, Amir Husain. Amir is a leader in artificial intelligence research, technology, and development, with 27 awarded and over 40 patents pending. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence, a contributor to Hyperwar: Conflict and Competition in the AI Century, and is the CEO & Executive Board Member of SparkCognition and SkyGrid. He has been recognized as Austin’s Top Technology Entrepreneur of the Year, one of Onalytica’s Top 100 global artificial intelligence influencers, and was a finalist for the 2018 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, among other prestigious awards. His success and in-kind, SparkCognition’s success stems from an early shaping experience in his childhood.
Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Amir often remembers when he visited his friend’s house at four years old. This was the first time he saw the Commodore 64, which was the most cutting-edge personal computer on the market at the time. He had a television in his home and knew that it played images and sounds. But the Commodore 64 was different than TV – it was responsive and reactive rather than predetermined. Once he returned from his friend’s house, he immediately began working with pieces from broken toys and old boxes to make his own “computer.” Since that day in 1982, Amir has known that he never wanted to do anything else. He has spent his lifetime pursuing computing and still asserts that he is nowhere close to the end.
When Amir founded SparkCognition, there was a lot of skepticism about artificial intelligence. But Amir felt that due to the improvements in algorithms and computers, the marketplace was ready for a company that allowed machines to think independently, solve problems, and augment human potential. After discussing the concept with Michael Dell – who later went on to back the company in the early years – planning and building a company with little capital raised, writing the code, building the prototypes, and speaking to each customer, Amir founded and ultimately grew SparkCognition to be what it is today. Today, there are four SparkCognition products, each developed to solve major problems organizations face daily.
SparkPredict®️ takes aim at eliminating operational inefficiency and downtime for key industrial assets such as turbines, pumps, generators, etcetera. Using IIoT data and high-performance asset-centric machine learning models, SparkPredict identifies nuanced changes in operating behavior to help subject-matter experts better understand previously unknown problems and take action. All recommendations can be explained with supporting evidence, helping to provide valuable context about the behaviors. Additionally, SparkPredict learns asset behavior patterns over time from new data, keeping up with the continually evolving “new normal” over the asset’s lifecycle. SparkPredict is in deployment in several industries including Energy and Oil & Gas, and is saving customers millions of dollars in maintenance costs.
To turn unstructured data – such as documents filled with natural language – into structured data, SparkCognition’s DeepNLP™ uses advanced machine learning techniques to automate the retrieval of information, classification of documents, and content analytics. DeepNLP is a scalable Natural Language Processing solution that automates workflows of unstructured data allowing humans to focus on high-value decisions. Through machine understanding of human natural language, DeepNLP minimizes the operating expense of process fluctuations and maximizes visibility into organizational processes. Organizations use DeepNLP to automate and accelerate the retrieval and classification of information buried in financial, legal, technical, and safety documents. The automation of information workflows with DeepNLP allows organizations to remain competitive and better respond to new regulatory requirements, evolving market needs, and future growth.
Darwin™ is SparkCognition’s automated model building product – “AI to build AI” – which enables data science and innovation teams to quickly develop, tune, and implement machine learning applications faster than the traditional methods. Darwin accelerates data science at scale with a productive environment that empowers analysts, subject matter experts, and data scientists with a broad spectrum of experience to quickly prototype use cases and manage models across the organization. Darwin uses a patented approach based on a blend of evolutionary algorithms and deep learning methods to custom-build models that are tailored to the data of the specific problem at hand. Darwin allows full control over the entire process including SDK and API options that facilitate integration with existing systems. Darwin augments the capabilities of in-house talent in organizations to enable machine learning applications such as predicting customer churn, automating lending rate pricing, and assisting in the risk analysis of operations.
SparkCognition’s DeepArmor® endpoint protection platform helps organizations improve their defense against the rapid acceleration of unique cybersecurity attacks. Instead of comparing to lists of known malware that can quickly go out of date, DeepArmor uses machine learning to predict new, never-before-seen threats based on actual characteristics of the malicious files. This enables DeepArmor to protect against every threat type and keep them from executing without needing constant signature-file updates. Because of this lightweight, headless approach, users experience less impact on system performance and can remain protected even when disconnected from the network. Deployed by enterprise customers and partners, DeepArmor models can also be used by MSSPs and can be incorporated into third-party software via SDK.
As a result of its innovative suite of solutions, SparkCognition has worked and partnered with top companies in multiple industries across multiple global markets–companies such as Apergy, IBM, Google Cloud, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Global HITSS, and Hewlett Packard Enterprises. In 2018, SparkCognition and Boeing launched a joint venture, called SkyGrid. SkyGrid is the world’s first AI and blockchain-powered aerial operating system for next-generation travel and transport that will ensure safe integration of autonomous air vehicles. The system will be a comprehensive platform with AI dynamic traffic route identification, cybersecurity capabilities, and certified maps database to facilitate unmanned aircraft system-enabled services.
Also in 2018, SparkCognition opened an office in Dubai. Because of the United Arab Emirates’ regional vision to become a hub for cutting-edge technology in the field of AI, Dubai was a natural fit for SparkCognition’s first international office.
In addition to creating cutting edge AI-enabled products, SparkCognition puts an emphasis on promoting thought-leadership and education over AI. In 2018, SparkCognition launched a robotics program with a local 501(c)(3), Austin Sunshine Camps, to encourage STEM education in the Austin community. SparkCognition’s Cognitive Times is a magazine that releases quarterly issues covering AI news, technology trends, and interviews with industry executives and thought leaders such as former Deputy Secretary of Defense, Robert O. Work, and Cisco CEO-turned-venture capitalist, John Chambers.
Since its founding in 2013, SparkCognition has reached impressive milestones. The company broke even within a year of product launch, closed a $56.5 million Series B funding, and has grown to around 260 employees. SparkCognition has been named #9 on the Wall Street Journal’s Top 25 Tech Companies to Watch in 2018, and in 2017, CNBC named SparkCognition to its “Disruptor 50” list. SparkCognition has also been included on CB Insights’ AI 100 List three years in a row, and named on the Austin Business Journal’s Fast 50 in 2017.
The first six years of SparkCognition have already brought innovation within multiple industries for major companies, and the disruption will only continue.