Pakistani-American Starts Defense-Focused AI Company
Amir Husain, a Pakistani-American AI expert, has started a defense-focused artificial intelligence company, according to builtinaustin.com. Amir Husain’s AI company SparkCognition has been building artificial intelligence and machine learning software for its various clients since 2013.
After closing on a $100 million Series C round last year, the company claims to be “one of the most valuable startups in Texas and one of the most valuable AI startups in the United States.” Earlier this year, Amir Husain and his wife Zainab, both University of Austin alumni, donated $5 million to launch “Artificial Intelligence Institute” at their alma mater.
“We started to develop software capabilities for a variety of (Department of Defense) clients and partners in the defensive industry,” founder and CEO Amir Husain said in a virtual event announcing the new company, as reported by the Austin-American Statesman. “We invented AI-powered weapon systems, prototyped a few and secured patents for many more. We have learned rich lessons and identified the shortcomings that prevent us now, as a country, from taking the lead in this critical new area.”
The new defense-focused AI company has announced several members of its board of directors who have served in high-ranking positions in the United States government. Most prominent among them are retired US Marine Corps General John Allen, former Air Force Under Secretary Lisa Disbrow, retired Navy Admiral John M. Richardson and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work.
Artificial intelligence is now being seen as the future of modern warfare. AI-powered networked drone swarms have recently been successfully deployed in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict and the Gulf region.
Defense analysts believe that Turkish and Israeli drones have helped Azerbaijan achieve decisive victory against Armenia. “Azerbaijan’s drones owned the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh — and showed future of warfare” says the Washington Post headline as tweeted by drone warfare expert Franz-Stefan Gady. In 2019, dozens of cheap drones were deployed against Abqaiq and Khurais oil fields to cut Saudi Aramco’s production by half, according to multiple media reports. Saudi and US officials have blamed Iran for the destructive hit. This was the first time that cheap drone swarms loaded with explosives dodged sophisticated air defense systems to hit critical infrastructure targets in the history of warfare.
Amir Husain was born is Lahore, Pakistan, in 1977. Husain enrolled in the Punjab Institute of Computer Science at the age of 15 and graduated from it two years later with a bachelors degree in computer science. Amir is a serial entrepreneur. He has started and sold several companies. He started SparkCognition in 2013 with Michael Dell as its first investor.
The author is a Silicon Valley based Pakistani-American analyst and writer. He blogs at www.riazhaq.com and can be reached at @haqsmusings