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Evolwe CEO, the spearheading women in tech advocating Artificial Consciousness over Artificial Intelligence


With AI constantly making the headlines, although sometimes only because of the corporate drama, there is an active debate about the direction it’s going. Aliya Grig, founder and CEO of Evolwe AI, has advocated (including at our second TechTalk on AI) thinking about the future of AI as more artificial consciousness than artificial intelligence. Recently, she also joined TFN to talk about how she became involved in AI, her hopes to develop everyday AI co-pilots, and what an artificial consciousness would be.

Born in the future

While science fiction may be a staple of many childhoods, Aliya Grig was born into an environment that straddled science fact and fiction. “My mother was a chief constructor and a leading astrophysicist at the Pulkovo Observatory,” (St.Petersburg, Russia) she said, and for when scientific observation was not enough, “lots of our family friends were science fiction writers, so it was normal to discuss how we will live on Mars or how we will travel to Arcturus.” 

This exposure had a significant impact on Aliya. “I had a real belief inside myself that technologies can shape our future,” she says. “That we can create anything, we can benefit humanity and can benefit the future exploration of the universe.” And this has become a personal challenge for her. “Even my school projects were always scientific topics that can change our world to a better place.” Continuing her education, Aliya Grig pursued a diverse range of studies at some of the world’s most prestigious institutions. She studied Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University and delved into Neurosciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her interest in space brought her to the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Furthermore, Grig honed her management skills at the St. Petersburg School of Management (SPbU) and Trinity College Dublin, and explored Luxury & Fashion Management at Università Bocconi. It was perhaps inevitable that Grig would find herself at the head of a start-up.

Her first company was fuelled by her interest in renewable energy. “I started to dig into different technologies and found an interesting technology for solid oxide fuel cells.” Selling that company to a fuel cell producer in the US, she moved her attention back to space. Her projects since have included working on launch vehicles, 3D printers for space, habitation fabrication, and even a participation as an expert with NASA’s first habitation on Mars. However, in 2017, her focus began to shift towards AI, as she started to learn about neuroscience and neurobiology, applying this knowledge to create a novel architecture for AI.

Training an AI co-pilot

Aliya’s attraction to AI was, initially, because of the efficiency it could offer, helping to solve problems that might be insoluble with other methods. However, she began to realise that her concept of a co-pilot for engineers had further application, and actually, should be an AI co-pilot for everyone. “When you have a strong AI, artificial general intelligence, or an artificial consciousness, it can help solve really complex tasks,” Aliya Grig says.

The key difference between current AI models and artificial consciousness, according to Aliya, are the following major factors: emotional intelligence, self-awareness, critical thinking, understanding and having it’s own personality and embodiment. “Through this, it can be creative and it can learn faster and much more efficiently,” Aliya says. “It will have a much broader vision of our world. And through this it can solve complex problems.” It would, however, have extended potential. Currently, AI is just a generative tool, it can only ‘generate” information and data based on knowledge it has already been trained on. A deeper understanding would allow an artificial consciousness to become more human in its output. “An artificial consciousness would work as a real human and can create solutions, can analyse information like a real human provides his or her creativity.”

This creativity could power an acceleration of technology, Aliya suggests that sectors like healthcare and engineering could be key beneficiaries. However, she also thinks that a major change will be that everyone has their own AI co-pilot to help them navigate their life.

“Artificial consciousness can act as our daily AI companion,” she suggests. “This AI companion can be with us on a daily basis, something that is a combination between a personal coach and an AI psychologist / therapist who can understand our needs and problems and help us to achieve our goals and accomplish life mission.”

Changing the world through individual AI consciousness

Harnessing the power of AI in this way, Aliya believes, will unlock a huge amount of potential. “It’s expensive for people to go to a personal coach or a therapist, but each of us needs them because our work moves really fast,” she told us. “Artificial consciousness is the solution, it can handle lots of information and analyse the best way to help you accomplish your life goals. It’s like a close friend who helps you stay on track.”

Aliya Grig is already involved in projects to create these co-pilots. In one, she is working with manufacturers to create software to assist with laser cutting, “it’s like Tony Stark in The Avengers,” she joked. “We basically create the solution for manufacturing companies are reducing their costs of engineering tasks.”

Her company, Evolwe AI, currently 26-strong, is also working in a research partnership with Stanford University in the US and Middlesex University in the UK. However, although they are growing both as a company and in their research partnerships, Aliya stresses that she sees work on AI as being for public benefit.

“I put the artificial general intelligence work in a non-profit foundation,” she explains. To further this, they plan to launch a public API and open opportunities for so everyone can be involved in AI training. Aliya Grig says AI should not be just for the tech sector, “I believe that Artificial Consciousness (or AGI) should belong to society and that everybody should benefit from it.”

This article is part of a partnership with Evolwe – an AI company and the Kosmos Foundationa deep tech company creating empathetic artificial intelligence technology and robots for manufacturing. Evolwe created the first empathetic AI companion – SensEI. Further, Kosmos Foundation has combined theory of mind, meta-cognition, psychometrics, and NLP to create state-of-the-art AI architecture. EKosmos Foundation has created an AI which is closest to humans in terms of providing empathy, reasoning and cognitive skills. They want AI to be empathetic, conscious and beneficial for society as a whole and are creating a new generation of AI robots that can benefit companies and end users. Evolwe has partnered with NVIDIA, Stanford University and AWS.

For partnering opportunities, contact [email protected]m or [email protected].

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