[Interview] Oh SangGyoon, CEO of BPU Holdings: “Our strength lies in making bold attempts that others cannot do.”
“With the same amount of effort that is required for elementary students to create PowerPoints, I want to build a world where elementary school students can easily develop artificial intelligence (AI),” said Oh SangGyoon, CEO of BPU Holdings, in a recent interview with IT Chosun reporter.
BPU Holdings is a company that develops application programming interface (API) for building AIs. API is a set of function codes used to configure programs. APIs allow developers to process complex tasks in an operating system (OS) with a single command.
BPU Holdings plans to launch an OS for AI and an AEI Skill Store (tentative name) by the end December. AEI Skill Store is a venue where developers can buy and sell a range of APIs for AEI. As transactions thrive, more APIs are created. This translates into increasing opportunities, while reducing the technical difficulties, in developing more AIs.
Mr. Oh explains that the reason behind launching such a marketplace is because while AI is well known to the general public, AI is still widely viewed as a “difficult technology that needs to be advanced.”
He drew parallels to a restaurant, as an example, where an operating system is a chef, the developer is a guest and the API serves as a waiter. The guest (developer) reviews the menu (API interface) and places the order to the waiter (API). The waiter communicates the order to the chef (OS). The dishes (the result of the work) prepared by the chef is delivered to the customer. Akin to the dynamics of a restaurant, APIs serve to ease the difficulty of development by connecting the OS and the developer.
“I was very surprised when I first heard that elementary school students were making presentations with PowerPoints. This is possible because the system provides the necessary features such as templates,” said Mr. Oh. “Similarly, if someone has a key idea, I want to create an era where anyone can develop the desired AI in the same trouble-free fashion as creating a PPT.”
“Analyzing the emotions encapsulated in emoticons. Predicting accurate results of the 19th presidential election.”
“BPU Holding’s strength lies in making new attempts that others cannot do,” said Mr. Oh. “With this (making bold attempts), our objective is to provide advanced services, not simple AI.” According to Mr. Oh, BPU Holding is the first to pioneer the concept and introduce an API Store and Artificial Emotional Intelligence (AEI).
In general, AI serves to find the optimal solution in a given situation. It replaces the work of humans. In other words, if you have a unique and advanced AI when finding a solution in specific field, the other AI is virtually meaningless.
Indeed, the Artificial Emotional Intelligence (AEI) developed by BPU Holdings is different. AEI is not a ‘crying or laughing computer,’ but a tool that communicates with users, learns and emulates individual’s characteristics while functioning as an AI. In other words, it is ‘my unique AEI’ with its distinct ‘personality.’ It enables people find a variety of solutions in a given situation.
BPU Holdings developed a range of APIs based on AEI. Mr. Oh said the company holds about 80 technologies. Most of the technologies were developed by the company.
BPU Holdings plans to sell the APIs at the AI Skill Store that is scheduled to be launched at the end of this year. BPU Holdings has released a number of services free of charge, a move to showcase the excellence of its APIs.
For example, the company’s ZimGo search engine has the capability to identify and analyze emoticons in social media, unlike other AIs that analyze social media in the units of sentences. It allows users to obtain personalized results.
Furthermore, BPU also developed ZimGo Polling, an election forecasting program based on ZimGo social media analytics engine. “ZimGo Polling accurately forecasted the results of the 19th presidential election in Korea – from the victor to the 6th candidate. It was more accurate than the six major polling agencies,” Mr. Oh said.
Other solutions introduced by BPU Holdings include ‘Neil,’ which curates blogs according to the desired topics, ‘Neil Publisher,’ which automatically publishes newspapers, and ‘aiMei,’ a service that helps one develop self-awareness and also their social relationships with others based on questions addressed by users.
In explaining the reason behind the company’s decision to release its services free of charge, Mr. Oh said: “We are a company that sells API technologies rather than services. We plan to make profits when developers utilize the technologies we release at the Store (AEI Skill Store) to develop AI.”
“Hoping to create a world beyond IoT – Internet of Humanity.”
The company’s name, or BPU Holdings, is derived from the abbreviation of Korean word ‘Bae Pum (means sharing in English).’ ‘Bae Pum (Sharing)’ runs deep in BPU’s corporate DNA. When the company was founded, Mr. Oh stated that 30% of the company’s profit will be allocated to public good.
Sharing with society is practiced at a small scale as well. The company regularly delivers yogurt to the elderly who are living alone near the office. Together with BPU employees and yogurt salespeople, Mr. Oh himself often delivers yogurts and talks to the elderly.
Creating a more comfortable life through AEI is also part of what BPU refers as ‘Bae Pum (Sharing).’ The SEVA Project, a collaborative initiative between BPU Holdings and University of Arizona, provides doctors with AEI, similar to a guardian angel, to help them with medical care. The AI is constantly interacting and learning alongside doctors. The solution is able to provide recommendations to doctors, whose judgement may be clouded when they are not at their optimal physical and mental state.
“Ultimately, through AEI, we are pursuing IoH (Internet of Humanity) beyond IoT (Internet of Things). IoH enables things to understand individuals.” Mr. Oh said. “We want to create a world where people are not alienated by the machines surrounding them, but are understanding and communicating with the machines.”