April 14, 2016

Blockchain Startup Reboots with AI, Machine Learning

George Leopold

A blockchain intelligence vendor focused on combining the technology used to record and verify transactions with big data and artificial intelligence has attracted a pair of top technologist to serve in senior positions.

Skry Inc., formerly Coinalytics, unveiled a name change this week along with the addition of new CTO and chief data scientist. The block chain analytics and intelligence firm based in Silicon Valley said Akash Singh, former CTO for data science at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei (SHE: 002502) will serve as Skry’s CTO. Singh also worked at IBM (NYSE: IBM), contributing to the development of its Watson cognitive computing platform.

Also joining Skry is artificial intelligence researcher Masoud Nikravesh, former director of computational science and engineering at the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. Nikravesh, who also served as a visiting scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will serve as Skry’s chief data scientist.

Fabio Federici, co-founder and CEO at Skry, said the name change was necessitated by a change in company strategy aimed at combining blockchain, big data and AI technologies to develop an advanced analytics platform for banks and other enterprises. “While our first solution is focused on compliance and anti-money laundering for the Bitcoin block chain, we are really developing a platform that can be deployed agnostically of the underlying blockchain and can adapt to any domain,” Federici explained in a statement.

CTO Singh will lead Skry’s platform development. Previously, he helped develop analytics platforms, petabyte-scale parallel processing systems and cluster monitoring tools. “We will advance artificial intelligence and big data infrastructure in order to make [blockchain technology] easily accessible to the enterprise,” Singh noted in a statement.

The company said Nikravesh would contribute to the blockchain platform’s machine learning and AI capabilities. His research has focused on developing new algorithms for predictive analytics as well as statistical analysis and modeling. Another focus has been applying “fuzzy” logic and other “soft” computing and machine learning tools to pattern recognition and data mining.

Blockchain technology underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin. Skry said the merger of block chain with AI and machine learning technologies would help extend the framework beyond Bitcoin.

The change in company strategy comes as the open source community launches an initiative called the Hyperledger Project designed to scale blockchain technology through a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers.

The Linux Foundation, the project coordinator, said the initiative has so far attracted about 30 members, including J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Boerse Group, the London Stock Exchange Group, financial services technology specialist R3. Technology companies joined the project include IBM and Intel Corp (NASDAQ: INTC). Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and VMware (NYSE: VMW).

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