WN: Tell me about Persai.
TD: The three of us are doing a company based around machine learning and artificial intelligence on an unreasonably large scale. We essentially want to automate the understanding of all the information in the world.
WN: (Pause.) What?
TD: We want to build machine programs that can learn things from information that's out there on the web. In the first application we'll come out with, you tell us things that you're interested in, and we'll continuously go out and find stuff on the internet that's related to that. There's a positive feedback loop where you tell us what you like and don't, so the machine gets progressively better in learning what you like.
WN: Is it going to be like, "I like unicorns; give me news about unicorns"? That sounds like a search engine.
TD: Search engine implies somebody's actively going out and looking for information. We're more passive than that. It's more like a newsreader. It's like you have some time to burn, so you go to Digg and see what the top headlines are. In that same style, except you take the community part completely out and leave all of it up to a machine.
WN: That's the opposite of what's trendy right now.
TD: Exactly. We're hoping that the tenet of "automation is key" still holds.