Dr. Ashwin Ram is Senior Manager for AI Science for Alexa, the intelligent agent that powers Amazon Echo and other devices. Ashwin heads research and development initiatives to create advanced technologies for conversational agents, including the Alexa Prize for university students. Along with a team of scientists and engineers, Ashwin pushes the envelope in artificial intelligence, natural language understanding, machine learning and conversational dialog in order to provide the best possible experience for Alexa users.
Prior to Amazon, Dr. Ram was Area Manager & Chief Innovation Officer of Interactive Intelligence at Xerox PARC, where he led a team to invent new technologies that make people smarter, particularly in consumer health and wellness. Before that, Dr. Ram was an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Director of Georgia Tech’s Cognitive Computing Lab. He has also been an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Psychology, and an Adjunct Professor in Department of Math & Computer Science at Emory University.
Dr. Ram received his B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. He was the valedictorian of his class and received the President of India’s Gold Medal for best undergraduate performance. He received his M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his Ph.D. degree from Yale University for his dissertation on “Question-Driven Understanding: An Integrated Theory of Story Understanding, Memory, and Learning”. He has published 3 books and over 100 scientific articles in international forums.
Dr. Ram has a proven track record in driving research to successful commercialization. A serial entrepreneur, he specializes in technology innovation and business strategy. He has co-founded four startups: Inquus (OpenStudy), an online social learning network for students and faculty; Enkia (acquired by Sentiment360), which developed AI software for social media applications; Cobot Health, a social network for healthcare; and Ardext, which provided software for testing electronic components and systems.
Dr. Ram is a closet anthropologist and loves travel, people and culture.
- 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.