SparkCognition Unveils New Defense-Focused AI Company

Ellen Glover
May 28, 2020
Austin-based SparkCognition announces new company focused on national security
Photo: Shutterstock

SparkCognition, an Austin-based startup that ordinarily builds AI-enabled industrial technology for the oil and gas, aviation and telecommunications sector, announced the creation of a new subsidiary that will be entirely devoted to government and defense to help them “meet the needs of their most pressing national security missions.”

Founded in 2013, SparkCognition makes artificial intelligence and machine learning software for its various clients. Its Darwin, DeepArmor, SparkPredict and DeepNLP platforms were created to help these clients “adapt to a changing digital landscape” and meet their company goals. After closing on a $100 million Series C round last year, the company claimed to be “one of the most valuable startups in Texas and one of the most valuable AI startups in the United States.”

While it has been doing national defense work for several years now, SparkCognition says it decided to create its separate SparkCognition Government Systems company so it can apply a more focused approach on the category. The plan is to tailor its commercial systems and create a new generation of AI and intelligence technology.

“We started to develop software capabilities for a variety of (Department of Defense) clients and partners in the defensive industry,” founder and CEO Amir Husain said in a virtual event announcing the new company, as reported by the Austin-American Statesman. “We invented AI-powered weapon systems, prototyped a few and secured patents for many more. We have learned rich lessons and identified the shortcomings that prevent us now, as a country, from taking the lead in this critical new area.”

SparkCognition also announced a board for the new company, which consists of Husain and several other erstwhile high-ranking government and military leaders like retired Marine Corps General John R. Allen, former Air Force Under Secretary Lisa Disbrow, retired Navy Admiral John M. Richardson and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work.

According to Husain, SparkCognition Government Systems will be the first defense-focused AI technology company of its kind and will be used to help the government analyze complex data for quicker intelligence decisions, apply predictive and prescriptive analytics to improve logistics and deploy autonomous technology. Disbrow said in the same live event that the goal is to use this technology to decrease the need to send troops into “high risk zones.”

“Warfare of the future will be characterized by rapidly evolving technology, of which AI will perhaps be the most influential,” Allen said in a statement. “The side with the greater capacity to understand the implications of these technologies, and to employ them effectively, safely, and in accordance with the law, will be the side that prevails.”

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