Dr. Adjaoute is a leading figure in the international cognitive science community and the CEO of Brighterion, which offers a full suite of products for real-time fraud prevention, compliance, and homeland security intelligence. Prior to Brighterion he was the founder, president, and CEO of Cognitix Technologies. Dr. Adjaoute has a PhD in artificial intelligence and mathematics from Université Pierre et Marie Curie [University of Paris VI]. Dr. Adjaoute has also served as the scientific director for the European Research Institute for two years.
Sramana: Akli, I understand that you have a very long history before you entered entrepreneurship. Would you tell me about your background?
Akli Adjaoute: I was raised in France, but I was born in Kabylia, which is in Berber. It is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. The country is renowned for people’s desire to respect everyone, particularly women. Women in Kabylian culture are very powerful. The last queen we had, Kahina, was a Jewish queen who took very good care of the Berbers. Any culture that respects women is a great culture to me. That culture as well as my family taught me integrity and honesty.
Sramana: Did your family emigrate to France?
Akli Adjaoute: Back then, France needed people for the First World War, so they took a lot of folks to Marseille. In a lot of cases, it was an emigration by force. They needed people for war and work. That is how my family ended up in France. Even though I was raised in France, my family made sure to instill in me the Berber culture.
I received my education in France. I earned the equivalent of a master’s degree from the University of Technology of Compiègne. It was a very good school that prepared me for my PhD, which I earned in artificial intelligence and computer science from the University Pierre and Marie Curie. That is one of the top universities in Europe and it is well known in the AI space.
Sramana: When did you finish your PhD?
Akli Adjaoute: I finished in January 1988. I started my first company in 1987, which was before I finished my first PhD. I started my company because I was very interested in smart agent technology. When I started my PhD, my goal was to design a system that could do the same diagnostics a doctor would do. That is what we call expert systems. My goal was to work with doctors and extract their knowledge and try to see if a computer could mimic a doctors thinking.
Initially, the doctors that I was working with were very happy with the results we were getting, but I was personally very frustrated. I thought we were doing something smart, but I realized that an expert system really had no intelligence at all in it. The system could only do what the rules, which were written by an expert, told it to do. I was frustrated by that limitation because there is no way an expert human being can tell you all of the possibilities.