1) What is your educational background?
I studied Computer Science at the University of Waterloo and received an Honours Degree in Mathematics with a major in Computer Science and minor in Music.
I was lucky enough to study programming in High School from the age of 13 when I was introduced to IBM mainframes, Commodore PETs and Apple II computers, and introduced to a video that showed a future with flat screens and conversational AI assistants…this was a LONG time ago! That drove my passion to want to study computers and create that next generation!
2) What do you like most about working in AI?
The potential to create a living software program that can interact with people in a human-like way. I mean the potential for a computer to be smart, to learn, to be kind and emotional and ideally just like a friend. This is what is exciting and challenging!
When I first programmed a computer (many years ago) I created a program that would talk to me. I didn’t realise that would be a big part of my life’s passion. This is not easy so it gives us a chance to constantly be using our left and right brains, both creative and logical.
3) What brought you to this company/how did you get started?
Graduating from University of Waterloo I was actually hired at Sony Tektronix in Japan. Sony was a great company but in the 90s I saw a Japan filled with creativity and wanted to be part of that. I joined a startup that wanted to bring computers, sound and graphic design together to create something unique. We ended up creating a virtual aquarium called AQUAZONE which became a cult hit in Japan. I saw the incredible impact of having something alive in a computer had on people. And, it didn’t matter how old or young, everyone knew about AQUAZONE, and I could see it touched them.
From there I really wanted to simulate and create human-like software that could really converse and interact with people. To not only be alive but to communicate, play and work with us. I didn’t realise how difficult that would be!
4) What makes the work at iNAGO so special?
iNAGO is allowing EVERYONE to create human-like assistants, and that is not easy! The creativity and logic required to constantly challenge and learn makes the work special. And then of course, the passion to make difference.
iNAGO was not created to develop one human-like assistant for everyone, like Google Assistant ,Siri or Alexa are doing. We want to allow EVERYONE to create human-like assistants. We want to enable people to create an assistant that represents them and their products. Many assistants with diverse functions, and personalities – just like us. We want to allow creative people, marketers, communicators to bring to life what they want to see, without programming skills, and allow programmers and scientists to work on and add state of the art additions that make assistants smarter, more human-like, more functional.
We believe the key is to put the power in the hands of people and companies, and not be controlled by programmers and scientists, but to be enhanced by them.
That is why we have created the Assistant Creator Platform, and why every day is driven by our desire to do this while understanding how challenging it is. That is what makes work every day at iNAGO special – it isn’t easy, but it allows me to grow every day, and hopefully change the world a little bit.