Volkswagen made international headlines this year when the company had to shell out $15 billion after a high-profile emissions scandal rocked the automaker and left its future uncertain. It’s a prime example of the type of situation David Copps is trying to prevent with his Dallas-based AI business, Brainspace.
“If they had known who said what and when early on in terms of all the emissions problems that they’re having, they potentially could’ve saved $12 billion,” Copps says.
That’s where he sets his sights with Brainspace. The company uses AI and machine learning to enable organizations to garner insights from the data they accumulate each business day, faster than ever before. Brainspace’s software takes this massive amount of unstructured data and turns it into an asset, rather than a liability.
This data can come from many sources including emails, word processing documents, pdf files and other documents that are used by and transmitted among employees, and stored on a company’s servers. Copps says many companies are so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data their servers contain that they need help understanding how much and what types of data they even have.
Brainspace has experienced significant growth since its founding in 2006, bringing on several high-profile clients, including KPMG, LexisNexis and Environ.
The company’s niche is digital investigation, helping organizations get ahold of their data and stay on top of potential nightmares, including everything from sexual harassment to money laundering, before the problems get buried and left to fester.
“Every company has massive amounts of these issues,” Copps says. “Companies could have as many as thousands of these kinds of matters inside.”
The Brainspace software can boil down hundreds of millions of documents to just the few items that matter most in a short amount of time — a task beyond reasonable human capability. The system requires zero human input, which something Copps says is unique to Brainspace.
“You literally can point our technology at 10 million documents in a bucket somewhere and it can read those documents very quickly and learn automatically with no human intervention,” Copps says.
The primary uses for Brainspace’s software include preparing for litigation, running internal investigations and aiding intelligence. The company works with international defense agencies all over the world to sift through billions of pages of information and discover the ones that matter in the effort to fight global terrorism.
Copps says the Brainspace software has helped its customers accomplish tasks that were previously considered insurmountable, and it does so with less manpower, smaller budgets and at a quicker pace.
“Our technology can do the work of hundreds of people,” Copps says. “We can make a small group of people very effective analyzing very large amounts of information.”
Over the last few years, many large companies worked to gather and store as much data as possible. Now, Copps says, the focus has shifted to how to use that data. He believes the businesses that will come out on top will be the ones that can not only store large amounts of data, but can turn that information into actionable items as quickly as possible. These companies will be able to make better products and better business decisions much faster.
When it comes to recruiting people to work on Brainspace’s software, Copps has had to look far and wide to find to find the best talent. He feels universities are just now catching up to the education and training requirements he looks for, but the hardest part is competing with large companies, such as Facebook and Google, who tend to snatch talent out of the hands of smaller businesses.
“We find the best people we can find, and we train them on whatever they don’t know here,” Copps says. “The degree does matter, but what matters most for us is getting very smart people.”
Some folks have concerns about what AI could mean for job loss in the future. Copps agrees that this is a potential threat down the road, but he doesn’t see any need to worry in the short term.
“Where we are today is an area we call augmented intelligence, where people are working with machines to get to information,” Copps says. “I think it’ll be a long time before we’re submitting to our robot overlords.”
Copps considers data to be the new arms race, and it’s something he’s excited to witness. He prides himself on having a machine learning AI that learns dynamically and continues to get bigger, better and faster. At Brainspace, creating easy-to-use visualizations and making data accessible to more people are of the utmost importance.
“It’s not just the company with the most data that wins, it’s the one that can learn from it the best,” Copps says. “We want to be the company that brings very complex, high level machine learning to more and more people around the world.”
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