Sentient Technologies Welcomes Risto Miikkulainen, Neuroevolution Pioneer

Sentient continues to add distinguished AI expertise and remains on track to double in size by year-end


Risto MiikkulainenSentient Technologies, an artificial intelligence startup seeking to solve the world’s most complex problems, has hired neuroevolution pioneer Risto Miikkulainen, Professor of Computer Science and Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin.

Risto’s expertise lies in biologically inspired computation such as neural networks and genetic algorithms. His extensive research has focused on developing intelligent artificial systems that learn and adapt by observing and interacting with their environment.

The 81-person San Francisco-based company remains on track to reach 120 employees by the end of 2015 and recently moved into One California Street to accommodate this rapid growth. Late last year Sentient raised $103.5 million, which is the largest venture round for an AI company, bringing it to a total of $143 million in funding.

“We are very happy to have Risto, a pioneer in neuroevolution, bring his vast knowledge and experience to Sentient,” said Babak Hodjat, cofounder and chief scientist at Sentient. “Joining us as a Sentient Fellow, Risto will bring his invaluable perspective and experience as we build out our evolutionary computation platform to tackle the world’s most complex problems using massively distributed AI.”

Sentient is leading the AI industry in developing and applying massively distributed evolutionary computation technology. Its patented solution mimics biological evolution: generating trillions of specialized programs known as agents across millions of CPUs. This solution has created a system powerful enough to solve problems involving massive amounts of time-series data, such as those found in trading and medical research.

Risto sits on the Board of Governors for the International Neural Network Society. He has served as an editor for the Machine Learning journal, Neural Networks journal, and IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games. He is also currently an IEEE Computational Intelligence Society Distinguished Lecturer.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Sentient at such a pivotal moment in the history of AI, when machine learning is becoming an essential technology in many applications,” said Miikkulainen. “When I heard about Sentient putting evolutionary computation into practice at a massive scale in a commercial setting, I jumped at the chance to help the company make a real difference in the world.”