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Founder Neil Serebryany on starting CalypsoAI to accelerate US government automation

May 1, 2020


Like many great companies, CalypsoAI was born out of a need. I founded CalypsoAI to fill critical quality assurance and reliability gaps in artificial intelligence. By filling these gaps, CalypsoAI helps organizations accelerate their use of AI technologies, bringing us closer to the future.

I am a business builder. When I look out at the world, I see opportunities and growth potentials. But after growing several of my own companies and then working in venture capital, I decided to join the federal government. I was drawn to the sense of mission and was filled with a passion to leverage my business and technology building experience for the public good. So I left the fast-paced world of Silicon Valley and started working in classified facilities outside of DC.

The scale of impact one can have in government is impressive. While working inside sensitive sections of the US national security apparatus I worked on projects that impact the lives of American’s every day, even if they don’t know it. But at the same time, the pace of government can also be slow. For an entrepreneur, I looked at these delays and wondered what I could do to make a difference. How can I speed up the pace of innovation to help the public?

When working on AI projects in particular, I was especially frustrated. Artificial intelligence holds great promise to enhance our national security, eliminate waste, and help the American people. But AI projects kept being stalled or abandoned. For all of the promise of AI, and for all of the attention on it as a technology, when drilling down into it very little AI was actually being deployed in those areas that could most benefit. At first I saw this as a process problem, writing off my frustrations as those of an entrepreneur in government. But as I dug deeper I began to see that the AI projects were failing not because of process alone, but because of technology.

Even if I didn’t fully know it then, once I realized the technology problem CalypsoAI was born as a company. There was no going back.

You see, AI projects were being abandoned for several reasons, all of which boil down to one word: fear.

The primary reason for this fear of AI projects, leading to them being abandoned inside the Government, sounds prosaic, but is actually quite complex. They were being abandoned due to a lack of quality assurance. My team and I will write more about this in other posts, but AI models cannot be assessed the same way traditional software models are. This is due to the underlying nature of model structure and the highly-complex ways in which they can fail. Lacking a mechanism to assess these non-deterministic systems in a deterministic, auditable way, organizations inside the government were unable to assess the so-called ‘quality’ of AI models against a benchmark. This led to fear that they could fail, could malfunction, or could be hacked by an adversary at the time they are needed most for example in combat, in flight, or during a complex medical procedure.

As a technologist and entrepreneur, I once I had uncovered a technical problem I knew that I had to build a solution. I conducted hundreds of interviews with both builders and (potential) users of AI in government, financial services, oil & gas, and even retail & consumer companies. I found through these interviews that the problem of AI quality assurance was not unique to government. Across all sectors, the application of AI capabilities is being slowed by the lack of tooling to conduct such assessments and provide ongoing monitoring.

Calypso was founded to fill this gap.

As opposed to other AI companies out there, we are not applying AI technology to a single use case or set of business or operational challenges. Instead, we give organizations the ability to trust their AI through validation, monitoring, and ongoing security. This in turn lets our organizations accelerate towards an automated future that is both secure and trusted.

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