Former Amazon Technology Leader Bryan Healey Joins Lola as Director of AI

Paul English, Lola CEO, on hiring Bryan Healey

I believe that the best consumer electronics product in the last five years is the Amazon Echo and its Alexa voice service, a breakthrough technology that allows third parties to extend the Amazon platform by adding new language “skills” to the service at any time.

Most people in the industry don’t understand how and why Amazon emerged from nowhere to launch a voice service superior to Siri or Google Now. When I recently learned that Amazon has more than 120 machine learning data scientists working on this platform, I knew we had to find one of the strongest leaders on the team — and convince them to leave Amazon to lead the Natural Language Understanding team at Lola.

Bryan Healey is that person. He led a team of more than 20 data scientists working on the Alexa service, and now he is leading a five person data science and machine learning team at Lola.

At Lola, we believe in having “human-led AI”, where our human agents ensure you get the best possible travel options, and take care of you through every step of your trip.

The Lola AI — code named Harrison — now reads chats with travelers and recommends replies to our human agents. The agent can accept those recommendations, or override them anytime they know more than Harrison. (In these cases, our humans are training Harrison to improve its future recommendations.)

Simple requests will be handled instantly by Harrison, such as traveler queries about flight status or weather. But, more complicated requests will be handled in combination with our human agents and the Harrison AI engine.

I’m thrilled that Bryan has chosen to join Lola and to transform this vision into reality. You will see the initial NLU benefits of his work starting to be exposed in just a few weeks.

— Paul English, CEO