Former NASA Chief Sees Coming “Tidal Wave” in Machine Intelligence

Dan Goldin founded KnuEdge (initially known as Intellisis) in 2005 to realize his vision for neural-based computing—and to fundamentally transform the way humans interact with machines. As he puts it, “a tidal wave is coming. It’s going to be bigger than the Internet. It looks and feels like the early ‘90s—but better.”

To get a better idea of just how big this tsunami of machine intelligence will be, Xconomy has invited Goldin and other innovation leaders to speak at the Xconomy Forum on the Human Impact of Innovation, set in San Diego on April 19 at the Alexandria at Torrey Pines.

In a recent interview in his San Diego office, Goldin told me he saw the revolution in machine intelligence coming almost two decades ago. When he left NASA in late 2001, after serving over nine years as the space agency’s longest-tenured administrator, Goldin came to San Diego to join the Neurosciences Institute and to work with the late Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman. He had a plan.

“San Diego was strong in neurobiology and neuroscience, and I wanted to transform the neurosciences into a metaphor for machine intelligence,” Goldin said. As he explained it, machine intelligence will only become more important as big data becomes increasingly complex and simply too big for humans to manage.

“Machine intelligence is going to change everything—the economy, politics, business. Disruption is inevitable.”

Dan Goldin (Photo courtesy Knuedge)

KnuEdge founder and CEO Dan Goldin

Goldin said the key to applying machine intelligence lies in training computer systems to extract meaningful information out of “unstructured” data—the ocean of clues that is not organized in a pre-defined way that enables computers to read the ones and zeros that make up “structured” data.

The ability to pick out a very low signal from very high noise is the ability to use unstructured data, Goldin said. It also is the ability to recognize patterns in pictures and videos, and he said machines are now much better than humans at things like facial recognition.

Machines have gotten so good at “reading” pictures, in fact, that Goldin said the technology has advanced to the point where machines can be used instead of radiologists to analyze X-rays and other diagnostic images. Machine intelligence also can be used instead of airport security guards to screen passengers, and to make weather forecasts based on satellite imagery.

These changes already have begun—and Xconomy is providing Goldin a bully pulpit to explain how these changes will have far-reaching effects.

We’re also bringing together leaders from academia and industry to describe how innovations in machine learning are spreading through everything, from healthcare and security to self-driving cars. Our goal is to explain how these changes are creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators in both technology and the life sciences, and to highlight San Diego’s role in the advance of these innovations.

Our lineup of speakers includes:

Henrik Christensen, Director, UCSD Institute for Contextual Robotics
Larry Smarr, Director, California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2)
Jeff Hawkins, VP on Reproductive Health, Illumina
Clayton Lewis, Co-founder & CEO, Seattle-based Arivale
Jay Lichter, Managing Director, Avalon Ventures Partner
Steven Steinhubl, Professor, Scripps Translational Science Institute
Patryk Laurent, Director of AI Engineering, LeEco

Tickets for this look into the future of innovations to come are available here. We hope to see you on April 19.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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