AI: Before Alexa and After Watson


Date Thursday September 13th 2018

5:00-6:30pm (5:00-6:00 presentation and Q&A, followed by networking until 6:30)

Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

Expectations have evolved rapidly since Watson vanquished Jeopardy in 2011 and Alexa invaded homes in 2014. Industry experts have predicted that by 2020, an average person will have more conversations with bots than with fellow humans, and 50% of online searches will be powered by voice. AI pioneer Igor Jablokov, whose team designed the precursor to Watson while a Program Director at IBM, recognized the emerging possibilities and began developing consumer-focused experiences to prepare the market. His first startup, Yap, became Amazon’s first AI related acquisition, leading to speech-powered products such as Alexa, Echo, and Fire TV. His new venture, Pryon, aims to extend natural interfaces into the enterprise to allow workers access to more complex knowledge, perform workflows, and trigger decisions. In this forum, Jablokov will share insights, implications, and never before heard stories from the development of Alexa, Watson, as well as explore how AI will disrupt business as usual in the coming decade.


Igor Jablokov is the CEO of Pryon, an artificial intelligence startup that is innovating how businesses interface with decisions, knowledge, and workflows. Named an “Industry Luminary” by Speech Technology Magazine, he previously founded industry pioneer Yap, the world’s first high accuracy, fully automated cloud platform for voice recognition. After its products were deployed by dozens of enterprises, the company became Amazon’s first AI related acquisition. The firm’s inventions then served as the nucleus for follow on products such as Alexa, Echo, and Fire TV. As a Program Director at IBM, Igor led the team that designed the precursor to Watson and developed the world’s first multimodal Web browser.

Igor was awarded Eisenhower and Truman National Security fellowships to explore and expand the role of entrepreneurship and venture capital in addressing geopolitical concerns. As an innovator in human language technologies, he believes in fostering career and educational opportunities for others entering STEM fields. As such, he serves as a mentor in the TechStars’ Alexa Accelerator, was a Blackstone NC Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR), and founded a chapter of the Global Shapers, a program of the World Economic Forum. Igor holds a BS in Computer Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, where he was named an Outstanding Engineering Alumnus, and an MBA from The University of North Carolina.

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