Cortado Ventures
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Cortado Ventures

CORTADO VENTURES

Predicting the Future with Artificial Intelligence

Senslytics ‘intuition technology’ scales expert insight with AI and machine learning to avert catastrophes and save millions

When I was fresh out of college in 2006, I got really excited about the possibilities of applying statistical analysis to divine future outcomes. I was a junior engineer at EnCana and the ability to quantify uncertainty to aid expert decision making had caught the attention of the company’s headquarters in Calgary. My work was published that next year. Now in 2022 at Cortado Ventures, we couldn’t be more excited to back Senslytics, a company defining a category called Intuition Technology. The field of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) has much promise and many successes, but we’re only now meaningfully grappling with its predictive power.

One of my favorite books is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. He deftly describes how some experts can instantly tell if a tennis serve will fault, a painting is authentic, or a marriage will last. These superhuman abilities are not the stuff of Marvel, but a difficult-to-quantify skill honed over 10,000 hours of experience. Is it possible for technology to enhance, replicate, and scale this ability?

In ‘Blink’, an expert can tell if a marriage will last within seconds. In ‘The Break-Up’, we all know how it ends.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are terms that are catnip for venture capitalists and futurists. AI/ML has changed and improved much in our world, but as technologists push further, we see that it is not a panacea. There are many specific design frameworks and applications (“hot dog, not hot dog” anyone?). In many cases, the optimized answer is not 100% human or 100% AI/ML. This intersection is most of the world, and where AI/ML has struggled. Enter Senslytics, and their Intuition Technology, enabling and scaling expert insight with novel AI/ML infrastructure.

Senslytics has designed and successfully fielded an artificial intelligence framework for early forewarning of hard-to-detect but high-stakes, delayed response, and hidden state change events in natural processes and applications. Early identification of such critical changes is challenging but necessary to avoid costly and catastrophic outcomes with significant economic and health costs.

Reasons We Like It

  • The technology is unique and proven. Cortado commissioned an independent technical evaluation of Senslytics which validated the technology and its wide range of applicability.
  • Customer validation. Senslytics won the Shell GameChanger competition, a very difficult contest that vets some of the most sophisticated technologies in the world as Shell tests them for effectiveness in solving its business problems. Senslytics developed an application for reservoir fluid sampling for Shell that was successful in 100% of trials in determining the fluid contamination status. Shell had tried other machine learning methods (including neural networks) previously and never found a solution. Shell is now going through the commercialization process with Senslytics.
  • The platform travels. Roughly 80% of the platform can be transferred to use cases in other industries, with the remaining 20% able to be developed over 4–6 months working alongside an industry partner. There are multiple other applications in oil & gas, hydrogen production, agriculture, natural disasters, and even disease forewarning.
  • Successful team. CEO, Blake Bixler, was the Chief Commercial Officer for start-up EagleClaw Midstream, which went from zero to a $2B exit in 4 years. CTO, Rabindra Chakraborty, has over 10 patents and multiple decades of start-up experience. Advisor, Hani Elshahawi, was the Shell Deepwater Digitalization Lead, has authored 150+ papers, is a distinguished speaker, and one of the most renowned experts in the offshore energy world.

Blake is also Entrepreneur In Residence at Cortado Ventures and has been working this opportunity from the start. As part of our seed investment in Senslytics, Blake will become full-time CEO to launch the company for commercial success, which only enhances our conviction.

Senslytics is designed for processes across multiple sectors including high impact environmental events.

How Senslytics is Defining a Category with Intuition Technology

For most of the later part of last century, rule-based expert systems were used to automate human expertise. But these systems were rigid and not able to adapt based on the situational context. These systems are also difficult to update.

Senslytics has created a system that can give early warnings for events that are difficult to detect but have serious consequences. This system is designed for chemical, biological, and geological processes. Examples of such high-impact events include contamination of collected fluids during drilling, onset of progressive degenerative diseases, pest infestation in grain silos, etc.

People who are experts in a field often find it difficult to describe the comprehensive and detailed process they use to make decisions — basically their intuition. Pure data-driven machine learning approaches are often limited in the natural world by the quality and quantity of data available. Furthermore, these approaches can be brittle and opaque, meaning they are not always accurate and people may not be able to understand why they produced a certain result.

Senslytics can capture causal knowledge, which is different from identifying correlations. Senslytics uses a new approach that combines existing data sources with expert input. The knowledge of domain experts is used to generate hypotheses. This approach is adaptive and can refine these hypotheses based on data from multiple sources, and allows the framework to overcome any gaps, biases, or inaccuracies in the domain expert’s knowledge. The result is the creation of causal knowledge, which is more useful than identifying correlations in the high-stakes use cases Senslytics is tackling. Intuition Technology helps create science-based models that can warn us about critical changes in the future. If we act on this information in time, we can avoid losses of life, property, and money. All of this can be done in many domains with relatively sparse training data available.

Much of artificial intelligence applications are going through growing pains, trying to make AI solve our problems for us instead of enabling expert intuition.

Conclusion

Senslytics is on the forefront with their patented technology that can detect and predict high-stakes events. By enhancing expert insights with next-generation artificial intelligence, they are opening up new possibilities for preventing catastrophic outcomes. This kind of AI/ML framework has potential to be applied in a number of industries where critical decisions need to be made. We’re excited to see other applications and how they continue to change the landscape of artificial intelligence.

Thank you Sandip Sen for your insights and analysis on AI/ML and Senslytics’ position in the market.

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Nathaniel Harding

Nathaniel Harding

Managing Partner for Cortado Ventures and Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum. Investor and advisor for tech startups, building a better future.