AI-Austin Launch – Press Release

By March 9, 2017Uncategorized

AI Austin Launches Initiative to Promote
Responsible Design, Development, and Use of Artificial Intelligence

Organization Aims to Unite Business, Government, and Academia to Pursue Socially Responsible AI in Healthcare, Law and Ethics, Social Justice, Education and Environment

Austin based business, academic, and government experts on Artificial Intelligence today announced AI Austin – a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that will work to advance the responsible design, development, and use of Artificial Intelligence technologies. The organization will provide the education, expertise, and tools required to ensure the benefits of AI are widely and evenly distributed, and ethically applied, to ensure a future of responsibly designed AI that benefits both business and society. AI Austin is a public-private venture involving City of Austin, The University of Texas at Austin, including the Strauss Center for International Security and Law, CognitiveScale, Lucid, USAA and some of the best research and business minds in the AI industry. AI-Austin is active on a global stage with partnerships that include the IEEE.

AI Austin will be chaired by Tom Meredith, Chair of Meritage, Snr Partner of Brightstar Capital Partners, Board Director of BazaarVoice and former Board Director of Motorola and former CFO of Dell. Other founding advocates include Manoj Saxena who is the Chairman of CognitiveScale, Chairman of Federal Reserve Bank, San Antonio and former General Manager of IBM Watson, Michael E. Stewart, CEO of and an Austin-based AI entrepreneur and technology innovator and Kay Firth-Butterfield, whose work in the intersection of law, business, ethics, society and AI is internationally respected.

“As AI evolves into a ubiquitous feature of work and life, AI Austin is committed to a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach to ensure the development of responsible AI,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, Executive Director of AI Austin. “Our goal is to create a practical and ethical compass for today’s AI technologies, and to build a foundation for the AI visionaries of the future to benefit humanity.  We are seeking members and donors who are involved in the design, development, or use of responsible Artificial Intelligence and hope to seeing this community grow through active collaboration.”

Most industry forecasts point to rapid increases in use of AI in virtually every domain, including healthcare, public safety, transportation, commerce, education, security, and entertainment.  Studies show the proper use of AI driving significant social benefits and business opportunities—ranging from a sharp decrease in automobile-related casualties, to a significant reduction in the runaway costs of chronic disease management. But there are also real concerns about job losses from automation, the potential misuse of AI in cyber-crime, and AI’s role in the spread of fake news and other forms of digital manipulation. Because of AI’s disruptive potential, AI Austin believes anyone who develops, sells, or deploys AI technologies should be grounded in common values and ethics.

AI Austin believes all AI systems should:

  • Deliver tangible positive impact, augment human intelligence and experience, and be transparent, accountable, and trustworthy

  • Pursue clear, measurable business outcomes that account for social impact, including socioeconomic factors, ethics, and the law

  • Empower people and organizations to achieve more, rather than simply replace people with machines

AI should be applied in deep, highly defined areas to augment and amplify human intelligence and skills. While jobs will inevitably be lost, AI will also change the character of future jobs. Preparing the workforce for these jobs, will include a new kind of human-machine collaboration that will reimagine customer engagement, empower employees, and transform products, services and business models in a way that converts the vast potential of AI into business opportunities.

AI Austin will amplify responsible and ethical design of AI for:

  • Healthcare that includes elusive cures for diseases which beset the world and increased understanding of mental illness

  • Law and Ethics that include responsible and ethical frameworks for the production of AI applications

  • Social Justice that includes community healthcare and global outreach – e.g., smart city initiatives using AI

  • Education that re-skills workers whose jobs will change; the City of Austin will serve as a hub of collaborative knowledge and innovation to define the jobs of the future (new collar jobs) and train executives to manage a changing workforce


AI Austin is a non-profit organization focused on responsible AI to accelerate practical and responsible design, development, and use of Artificial Intelligence to address the needs of businesses, communities and academia locally and worldwide. AI Austin’s mandate is to create a climate where local jobs, entrepreneurs, incubators thrive by integrating responsibly designed AI locally and worldwide. AI Austin will also serve academia, policy makers, non-profits and business, to enable them to understand and prepare for the impacts of AI in society and the workplace. The organization will showcase AI Does Good by using the innovative applications of AI to address the planet’s biggest social, economic and political issues of our time.

For more information, visit

ABOUT Cognitivescale

CognitiveScale builds enterprise-scale augmented machine intelligence software for healthcare, commerce, and financial services markets. The company’s products—Engage and Amplify—help large enterprises increase customer engagement, improve decision-making, and deliver self-learning and self-assuring business processes.


“As a leader helping enterprises transform their operations through industry specific AI, CognitiveScale is committed to this initiative. ,” said Akshay Sabhikhi, CEO of CognitiveScale. “In our work with large banks, healthcare providers, retailers, and more, we understand only too well why AI projects must be executed responsibly, securely and ethically. We look forward to working with AI Austin to amplify the positive impact of AI on business and society.” CognitiveScale and The Saxena Foundations are founding partners of AI Austin.


USAA proudly serves millions of military members and their families with competitive rates on insurance, banking and investment services.


USAA seeks to stay at the leading edge of emerging technologies to better serve the needs of our members.  The continued emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies presents an exciting opportunity for USAA to explore the development of next-generation products and services.  AI technology offers a revolutionary set of capabilities, and USAA is actively investigating ways – such as smart products, predictive analytics and enhanced security measures – to leverage those capabilities for the benefit of our members.


The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law is a nonpartisan, multidisciplinary global affairs research center at The University of Texas at Austin

“The Robert Strauss Center at UT was present at the creation of AI-Austin, and we are very proud of our continued close ties to the project.  We believe Austin can and will become an AI hub of the first rank, distinguished by its emphasis on seeking the greatest good for humanity in the midst of this extraordinary technological disruption.  AI-Austin is critical to realizing this vision.” Robert Chesney, Director


Advancing Technology for Humanity the IEEE is the World’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology.


“At IEEE we are deeply aligned with the tenets of AI Austin with a focus on prioritizing ethical considerations at the heart of AI design and growth.  The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems has been fundamental in helping to establish and grow a paradigm of sustainable innovation policies for technological progress. We are excited to continue to collaborate with AI-Austin on new ideas like The Human Standard Workshop along with continued growth for The IEEE Global Initiative.  I wish AI-Austin all the greatest success and applaud your efforts toward a responsible, human-centered innovation for technology in the thriving and unique technological hub of Austin, Texas.” Konstantinos Karachalios, Managing Director IEEE Standards


Founded in 2002, Saxena Family Foundation’s mission is to advance inventive and effective ways of promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in the United States and India, empowering young women so that they have equal rights later in life.



Sandy West, Mktginc Agency for AI Austin