Artificial Intelligence: a talk with Marco Menichelli, CTO at XSENSE Corp. and speaker at BLAST 2017

by | May 8, 2017

In this interview, we introduce Marco Menichelli, CTO at XSENSE Corp.

In 1999 he represented the Italian universities at the Platform Aerospace in Paris, in 2012 he won the Lamarck Prize at SMAU thanks to Leonardo Human Language Code, the embryonic version of XSENSE and last April he was speaker at TEDx in Rome. Let’s get to know him better and meet him at BLAST 2017: book your pass now!

Let’s start from the beginning: who is Marco Menichelli? How did your passion for artificial intelligence start?

Sincerely, I still do not know enough myself to say who I am.

My first approach to artificial intelligence was in 2006 when I developed an autonomous software able to import and configure workflows, offers and pricelists on Siebel to automate my work at that time. This software did a very hard job, avoiding typing errors for tiredness and managing thousands of workflows, offers and pricelists.

In 2011, I resumed to study new AI algorithms. So, I founded a startup called Mayam with other people and I started to design the algorithms of an intelligent developer (Leonardo Human Language Code), based on neural networks and semantic analysis, capable of developing software in a few seconds, just reading technical specifications written in natural language. Thanks to Leonardo, in 2012 Mayam won the Lamarck Innovation Award at SMAU Milano.

My passion for Artificial Intelligence comes out as a challenge with myself: anyone can design automatic systems. Not everyone knows how to design a not automatic but autonomous system, as the human mind. This is why XSENSE is born.

You’re also the CTO of XSENSE, “a set of artificial intelligence algorithms that simulate the cognitive process of the human being in learning our language, autonomously and without manual configurations”: could you tell us more about it? When did XSENSE project start? Which are its goals and at what point are you, compared to the goals that you have set?

XSENSE represents a new generation of Artificial Intelligence algorithms that aim to simulate non-automatic processes of human thought.

Those algorithms are able to manage the unexpected, on the base of acquired experience. This approach generates non-automatic behaviors which does not pass through a finished series of if-then, and then can manage non-predefined processes that were not set before by programmers. Once we have defined the group of algorithms that simulate one of the mental processes, these can be applied to any pattern.

We call this new approach “Deep Sensing”. This kind of approach is exponential and allows to achieve amazing results with an increasingly less effort. Using “Deep Sensing” approach, if an AI algorithm learns how to play Go, it can also play chess, poker or any other game, or will make a decision in any situation using the same algorithm.
Today, XSENSE is able to independently learn and analyze concepts, to learn languages  through the study of the use of words contextualized to specific topics and by the conversations with users. It realize the verbs conjugations and many synonyms in each language without any previous loading of linguistic structures. It creates wizards (workflows) learning from conversations with users, it is able to hold human-like conversation without any previous configuration and it has learned to use logic to deal with complex discourses.

In 2017, XSENSE exceeded human capabilities in maintaining the context of very complex multilingual conversations.
Our goal is to simulate an independent and autonomous mind by 2019. The way we have taken is the right one. Our roadmap is tight but within June we will have reached the target set for 2017 and we will start to work on algorithms programmed by 2018.

By the end of the year, XSENSE will guess the intent of its interlocutor so that it will imagine the sense of what he says and will no longer need human intervention to learn notions. In 2018 XSENSE will use its own algorithms to learn software development skills through self-learning.

Recently, during the TEDx event in Rome, you were flanked by an “artificial creature” named Crystal. She spoke about the difference between humans and artificial creatures. Despite the big potentials of the AI, there will always be something that only humans can guarantee, such as charisma, leadership and love for a job. That was astonishing: would you explain a little more about this important topic?

Each artificial intelligence will take its own personality, but I don’t think it can have, at least in the medium term, individuality or charisma, human peculiar characteristics that go far beyond our emulation possibilities, involving energy components that are not yet clear to the scientists. Passion could be emulated in its effects, but we actually do not know how to simulate the energy that a passionate person can transmit to the others.

Moreover, as Aristotle wrote, and I fully agree, “man is a social animal” and socializing is a primary instinct. Therefore, every entrepreneur will prefer to be surrounded by passionate people who love their work. That’s how it is and always will be.

Sometimes people are afraid of possible “apocalyptic scenarios” where the AI become a substitute of the real persons, but on your website there is an interesting post about the possibility of using the AI potentials not to replace the teachers, but to be an extension of this role.

Artificial Intelligence could significantly reduce the time that is necessary to review, correct and grade tests, saving more precious time for teachers to prepare for class, interact with students and guide them through their career development.

In short words, we are not going to be replaced, we will reach an higher state of possibilities. When I first thought of XSENSE, I dreamt of it as “an artificial extension of the human mind”. We will be able to do things that cannot perform at the moment. We will also be able to do things that we can already manage, faster.

As much we reduce the time we spend on those things, we will finally invest it in more productive activities and we will feel like we have 48 hours in a single day.

I cannot figure out how many people will lose their jobs and how many professions will be replaced, but I am sure that artificial intelligence and robotics will create many jobs and new professions as well.

On the main stage, you’re going to speak about “The opportunities and challenges of the AI Golden Age”: would you anticipate synthetically your opinion about it? Is this the AI gold rush? What is your forecast for this sector?

Currently there is no big company in the world that is not investing or not thinking of investing in AI. Even the most conservative companies have realized that, in a few years, they will not be able to face their competitors if they do not invest TODAY on automation. The AI sectors involved in this new industrial revolution are many, ranging from forecasting analysis, security, IoT, customer service, legal assistance, accounting and medical assistance.
Use cases are mostly infinite.
Artificial Intelligence will play a key role in business and mobility. Several activities that require attention, organization and intuition will be totally automated by AI and people will accept it because it will ease the lives of each and anyone of us.

An irreversible mechanism has started. It is up to us to guarantee a continuity of service, providing companies and users with the most advanced algorithms able to think and take decisions as we do.

Very soon, we’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with new, and different, intelligent life forms, or better with a “simulations” of life forms. Although, from my point of view, any reality perceived as real, is real. In XSENSE Corp we’re working for this purpose.

What do you see in BLAST? Which is the reason why you decided to become a speaker of this great event?

Because I have somethings to say, and a lot to listen to. I’m a student and I think I will be for the rest of my life.

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