Cycorp is a leading provider of semantic technologies that bring a new level of intelligence and common sense reasoning to a wide variety of software applications. The Cyc software combines an unparalleled common sense ontology and knowledge base with a powerful reasoning engine and natural language interface to enable the development of novel knowledge-intensive applications.
Nestled in the burgeoning technology hub of Austin, Texas, Cycorp is an agile company that is chiefly composed of philosophers and computer scientists who serve as ontological engineers and programmers. The staff is dynamic and well educated; more than half of the technical staff have PhDs. For more about the kinds of people at Cycorp, look at our career options as well as our leadership team.
Founded by an AI Visionary
Doug Lenat understood that brittle expert systems and machine learning AI trained on big data to spot correlations were not enough. He launched Cycorp as a Manhattan Project-like effort to build a step-by-step logical reasoning system to do what ML cannot: transparently justify its claims from first principles.
Doug’s achievements speak volumes. He:
- Served as a professor of computer science at both Carnegie-Mellon University and Stanford University.
- Worked with Bill Gates to establish Microsoft Research Labs and is the only person to have served on the technical advisory boards of both Apple and Microsoft.
- Received the the bi-annual IJCAI Computers and Thought Award – the highest honor in Artificial Intelligence; was named the first Fellow of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI); and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Our Approach to AI
Cycorp was founded with an eye towards filling gaps made apparent by expert systems and purely statistical approaches to AI. Doug’s passion for AI is contagious, but he sees it differently than most. Cycorp values:
- Transparency: Black boxes are fine for recommending products you may like or which movie to watch next, but enterprises – and their customers, regulators, and shareholders – insist upon accountability when millions of dollars and lives are at stake. Cyc delivers answers in natural language and explains the why in addition to the what.
- Size AND Efficiency: While the Cyc KB is several orders of magnitude larger than any other knowledge repository ever developed, we are not hung up on increasing the absolute number of assertions maintained in the KB. Nor are we willing to sacrifice the size and scope of the knowledge base for marginal gains in efficiency. Instead, we strive to be more efficient with more knowledge, adding meta-knowledge so that Cyc can find the most promising answers in an ever-growing problem search space.
- Practical AND Theoretical Completeness: There is a strange deification in the symbolic AI world of having a system that is provably complete. While completeness is a virtue, it is not all that useful if some proofs will not finish by the heat death of the universe. At Cycorp, we believe that AI is only as intelligent as what it can actually prove.
- People: AI is more than just automation and finding ways to remove humans from the loop. Instead, AI makes us humans better. With AI, we can avoid falling prey to cognitive biases, and we can stretch our human intelligence to do amazing things.