Skip to main content


Dr. Jeffrey Watumull honored as a DARPA Riser for 2018

Posted June 7, 2018 in Artificial Intelligence, In the News

Arlington, Virginia – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Oceanit’s Artificial Intelligence Lead, Dr. Jeffrey Watumull, as a DARPA Riser for 2018. In his role as Oceanit’s lead researcher in anthronoetic artificial intelligence (human-style, explanatory AI), Dr. Watumull will attend and present at DARPA’s 60th Anniversary Symposium (D60) in September at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland:

DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. Each year, DARPA honors up to 50 Risers with invitations to present at their annual conference. These ‘Risers’ are young scientists and researchers who are working on ground-breaking technologies and next generation innovations. The D60 event will bring together 1,500 scientists, engineers, and innovators to share ideas and learnings around some of the most consequential and dynamic scientific and technological fields today. Dr. Watumull will have the opportunity to present Oceanit’s AI ‘Noetic Mathematical Engine’ (NoME) to peers along with DARPA’s technical and leadership teams.

“I am deeply honored to be named a DARPA Riser and am most appreciative for their recognition of my admittedly ‘out there’ ideas,” said Dr. Watumull. “Indeed, DARPA is an extraordinary institution in its wise commitment to pure science as the potential source for revolutionary technologies. DARPA understands that, in the words of one philosopher, ‘Pushing a precise but inadequate formulation to an absurd conclusion may be an important method of discovery’.”

Dr. Watumull has been leading Oceanit’s efforts to develop a linguistics-centric approach to AI, a human-like approach that will replicate human cognitive processes and surpass the current big data approaches of neural network-based AI. Oceanit’s NoME will be able to understand the nuance and recursive nature of human cognition – allowing it to make inferences from ‘small data’. The anthronoetic-style AI will offer explanations to accompany answers, which in turn enables a user to understand both the output and how NoME arrived at that solution. NoME will be able to operate with human-level intelligence in domains both specific (e.g., language) and general (e.g., problem solving).

"Jeffrey is an amazing talent and certainly his work at Oceanit deserves this DARPA recognition," said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Oceanit's CEO.  

Dr. Jeffrey Watumull received BS degrees, summa cum laude, in Mathematics and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University in 2009 (under Steven Pinker). He received a Master of Philosophy in Linguistics from the University of Cambridge in 2010 (as a Gates Cambridge Scholar) and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015 (under Noam Chomsky). Read more DARPA's D60  on the event page.

Oceanit is a ‘Mind to Market’ company founded in 1985 on Oahu, Hawai’i. Oceanit has earned a world-class reputation for developing and migrating fundamental science to real-world application, built upon our values of Curiosity, Community, and Ohana. We are a skilled group of scientists, engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs delivering solutions, products, and services to clients across a multitude of diverse industries.