About Me

Ashwin Ram is a distinguished AI researcher and entrepreneur. Inspired by family lore about a famous ancestor [1], he survived boarding school to make it to IIT Delhi where he won the President of India’s Gold Medal but nearly wore out his soles in the process [2]. He traveled 12,000 km to University of Illinois to meet the girl whom he would marry, only to discover she had been in college with him all along. Ashwin then hopped over to Yale University for his PhD, where as an engineer in a liberal arts school he discovered the human side of AI. He became a professor of AI and Human Centered Computing at Georgia Tech [3], interspersing his academic career with four startups which helped him understand how to connect technology, product and business (two acquired, two failed, but who’s counting?). He moved on to Xerox PARC to lead the Interactive Intelligence team, creating their Digital Health program and almost doing another startup in the bargain. (He promises to share that story over a Scotch sometime.) Ashwin then joined Amazon to bring Conversational AI to Alexa; there, he created and led the Alexa Prize competition with a million dollar grand challenge (which has yet to be won. Any takers?). And now he is super excited to be joining Google Cloud Office of the CTO to help take Google AI to, well, he isn’t saying; we’ll just have to wait and see. On a personal note, Ashwin is a closet anthropologist and loves travel, people and culture.


Fun Facts (Two Truths and A Lie)

[1] Ashwin’s great-grandfather was personally knighted by King George V at Buckingham Palace. Sure beats playing at King Arthur in grade school.

[2] One long hot summer month, Ashwin bicycled 1600 km down the west coast of India from Mumbai to Kanyakumari without tents or maps on a bike with no gears. Make that one VERY long hot summer month.  

[3] Ashwin declined an opportunity to be the external member of Larry Page’s thesis committee. Graph search over a network of servers? How hard could that be anyway?


Academic Genealogy

  • My MS advisor: Gerald F. DeJong, Ph.D. Computer Science, 1979, Yale University, Thesis: “Skimming Stories in Real Time: An Experiment in Integrated Understanding”.
  • My (and Gerald F. DeJong’s) PhD advisor: Roger C. Schank, Ph.D. Linguistics, 1969, University of Texas at Austin, Thesis: “A Conceptual-Dependency Representation for a Computer-Oriented Semantics”.
  • His advisor: Jacob Mey , Ph.D. Linguistics, 1959, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Thesis: “La catégorie du numbre en finnois moderne”.
  • His advisor: Louis Hjelmslev, M.A. Linguistics, 1932, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Thesis: “Études baltiques”.
  • His advisor: Holger Pedersen, Ph.D., Linguistics, 1897, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Thesis: “Aspiration in Irish”.
  • His advisor: Heinrich Friedrich Zimmer, Ph.D., Indology and Sanskrit, 1878, University of Tübingen, Germany.
  • His advisor: Rudolf von Roth, Ph.D., Semitic Linguistics, 1843, University of Tübingen, Germany.
  • His advisors : Georg Heinrich August Ewald, Ph.D., Oriental Languages, 1823, University of Göttingen, Germany; and Ferdinand Christian Baur, Theology, 1817, University of Tübingen, Germany.
  • His advisor: Ernst Gottlieb Bengel, Theology, University of Tübingen, Germany.
  • His advisor: Gottlob Christian Storr, Theology, 1768, University of Tübingen, Germany.

6 responses to this post.

  1. […] Overall OpenStudy represents an important departure from conventional learning methods. Here are a couple of articles by Ashwin Ram from the OpenStudy team, […]


  2. Posted by Luke Dalla on June 17, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Ashwin,

    I am an Australian, completing final units of my undergraduate in Public Health at Wollongong University.

    I am passionate about mhealth, SDOH and online community building. I would enjoy being involved with Cobot project or any future ehealth initiatives.


  3. Posted by Hisa on June 20, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Heard you on radio national. Interested in using your new app. How do I obtain it?


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