New Tech Chief of Startup Hypergiant Envisions Closer Human-AI Collaboration

Hypergiant Industries Inc. tapped a former International Business Machines Corp. official as its first chief technology officer, the artificial intelligence startup announced Tuesday.

Mohammed Farooq, who previously served as a general manager within

IBM’s

Global Technology Services unit, officially started Monday as CTO and general manager of products. He was also given a board seat by the Austin, Texas-based company, which offers AI technologies and services primarily to U.S. military branches, aerospace, and industrial companies.

Mr. Farooq said part of his primary vision is to develop a cloud-agnostic platform that helps companies foster greater collaboration between humans and AI systems. He said he believes the future of AI will involve autonomous applications that pair humans with machines, and the key ingredients for getting there, including corporate data troves and cloud computing, exist today.

“Building autonomous teaming apps, with humans and machines, is the future,” he said. “All the building blocks are there. How do we now put this together [in a way] that can really bring the autonomous world to life with people?”

Founded in 2018, Hypergiant develops AI technologies and offers consulting services. The U.S. Air Force announced earlier this year that it was working with Hypergiant to build the first software-based U.S. satellite system that could eventually perform real-time data analysis with machine learning while in orbit.

Mr. Farooq said Hypergiant’s AI platform and apps, which will power such capabilities, is already being used to make recommendations for inventory levels at manufacturing companies, for instance. It can get better, said Mr. Farooq, through AI apps that take automated actions.

“All of these things are happening, in some shape or form,” he said, “but they’re not happening at the speed and accuracy, and repeatability and scale that AI can deliver.”

Mr. Farooq said he wants to do this by creating a platform that can support an ecosystem of applications designed for human-machine collaboration. These could be apps created by Hypergiant or other third parties that enable AI systems to orchestrate tasks across a factory floor, for instance. It would work across the major cloud platforms, he said.

“Over his career, he has built SaaS cloud technology offerings into massive commercial successes both as an entrepreneur and while being a [general manager] at IBM,” said Ben Lamm, Hypergiant’s chief executive. “Both Mohammed and I share the belief that human-machine and machine-machine teaming can deliver extraordinary business results.”

Mr. Farooq said he helped establish IBM’s multi-cloud business within IBM’s Global Technology Services unit, after IBM purchased his company, Gravitant, in 2015. He said he led the transformation of that unit from a single cloud provider business to a hybrid and multi-cloud managed services business.

Before Gravitant, Mr. Farooq spent seven years as CTO for the State of Texas, a $6 billion IT organization.

Write to Jared Council at [email protected]

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