IBM’s Watson group has announced it has acquired artificial intelligence company Cognea, co-founded by Greek Australian Dr John Zakos and Liesl Capper. Cognea was previously called MyCyberTwin.
Cognea developed a cognitive computing and conversational artificial intelligence platform. The startup offers virtual assistants that relate to people through personalities. On the company’s AngelList page, NASA, HP and Start Farm were mentioned as customers.
As IBM stated after the acquisition: “We believe this focus on creating depth of personality, when combined with an understanding of the users’ personalities, will create a new level of interaction that is far beyond today’s ‘talking’ smartphones. We welcome to IBM [Cognea’s] co-founders Liesl Capper and John Zakos, and the rest of the Cognea team.”
Watson is the artificially intelligent, question-answering supercomputer developed by IBM. The Watson Group aims to further develop, commercialise and expand Watson and other cognitive technologies.
When IBM launched Watson in January, it said it would invest $1 billion in the group to be used broadly for R&D and investments. The Watson Group has already backed Welltok, a maker of online healthcare management communities, and Fluid, which is building a cognitive shopping assistant.
IBM says Cognea’s technology will be brought into Watson, giving the system the ability to have more real conversations with users.
Before co-founding MyCyberTwin Dr Zakos worked for both mature and start-up IT companies at an international level. His experience spans both managing business development and leading technical teams in the development of emerging technologies in Asia-Pacific and the USA.
Dr Zakos was a key member of the founding management and engineering teams that built the Mooter platform. Mooter, a global leader in search and contextual advertising technology, has attracted international recognition from several authoritative sources, including the MIT Technology Review.
During his time at the IBM Research Lab in Japan, Dr Zakos’ work focused on the development of world-leading information retrieval and knowledge-mining technology. Previously at Ixla Limited, he was involved in the commercialization of award-winning digital photography and web publishing software.
Holding a PhD in intelligent web technology, John Zakos has authored numerous publications and presented his work at international conferences and invited talks. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Information at Communication Technology at Griffith University, in Queensland and participates in collaborative research efforts with other academic institutions in Australia, in the USA and other countries.
The Greek Australian computer scientist is also well known in Greece and was one of the main speaker last month at TEDx Thessaloniki 2014.