The content below is borrowed from Kimera’s Corporate History.
As a kid growing up in Norway, Mounir Shita was fascinated by the future, particularly the way it was portrayed in Star Trek and other science fiction stories, television shows and movies. As a high school student, Mounir not only majored in electronics, he built out his room with various inventions he created, automating objects and lights with motions and gestures. Mounir wondered what it would take to make all the devices he used and all those around him work in sync to his benefit. Ah, but that is only the imagination of a boy fascinated by science fiction.
By 2004, Mounir was already a successful entrepreneur. PayWi, the company he co-founded, was one of the pioneers in mobile payments. At the time, paying by phone was unheard of. After raising $2.5 million, PayWi had a meeting with the State of Oregon, and once that meeting ended, the company was named as an authorized financial system for the state, becoming the second such authorized institution behind the state’s official bank, US Bank. Mounir helped seal this groundbreaking deal by selling his vision of the future. After the meeting he began to understand that it’s not businesses that make things happen, it’s people.
The future became Mounir’s preoccupation. His youthful notion that devices can be synchronized had evolved into a vision where all the devices around a person are not just “smart,” but intelligent, and actively work to make people’s lives better. Achieving this vision would require artificial intelligence. AI was not the goal, merely the means to realize this grand vision. Mounir’s preoccupation became his obsession, and he soon had tunnel vision, researching and learning as much as he could about AI.
By this time, there was already a half-century of AI research, all centered around the biology and neuroscience of how the brain works, and trying to create a digital replica of thought process. Mounir decided he would start from the beginning and apply a new approach, one he understood better: physics. And more specifically, quantum mechanics. He started applying new theories to apps he developed on the side.
His AI research and experiments with apps led to the creation in 2006 of another startup, GoLife Mobile, a cross-platform application development platform that strived to create new apps that work together, rather than each mobile app working completely independently within its own silo. The idea was that each app would be a building block creating a greater, synchronized user experience.
As Mounir expanded his approach to apps and intelligence, a chance encounter on social media introduced him to Nigel Deighton, then a UK-based vice president of research at Gartner, the world’s largest industry analyst firm. The two shared similar thoughts of the future, and they engaged in lengthy email correspondence and Skype conversations about what intelligence really means. Nigel joined GoLife’s advisory board, and the two continued to scheme.
Both Mounir and Nigel agreed that pursuing a digital replica of the human brain was folly, and they began to assemble the idea of a new business model for GoLife that would develop technology based on Mounir’s quantum mechanics-based theories and Nigel’s business acumen. A point of early and enthusiastic agreement was a shared philosophy: that to be successful the company should not pursue technology for the sake of the technology itself, but try to understand what the future economy would become, and develop a product to meet anticipated needs.
From the technology perspective, their goal was to create code that would not need to be programmed to do anything, but instead learn from observation and determine desirable actions for itself. With their business plan completed, GoLife raised $10 million more in venture funding. But before the funds were distributed, the economic collapse of 2008 caused the well of venture capital to run dry. But their idea stayed very much alive.
A key aspect of Mounir’s emerging AI infrastructure was to avoid a platform approach, instead distributing processing power throughout the cloud, making each node a part of a bigger whole. All the “experts” said that type of architecture could not be done. So Mounir taught himself how to program servers to prove them all wrong.
The theoretical conversations between Mounir and Nigel grew more intense. They discussed a great many possible use cases, and what the future workplace would be like. For instance, word processing software, with its hundreds of options, would anticipate the user’s needs and present exactly what function is needed at precisely the right time, such as when a document was finished, the print button would automatically appear, but not before. Mounir and Nigel determined that it was not possible to create an independent algorithm to service them all. The best design paradigm would be to develop one universal algorithm that could be applied to any possible use case.
Mounir and Nigel continued to develop and iterate their code and architecture. At the beginning of 2012, they were showing their first commercial use case, a shopping list and recipe solution that would integrate all the information about what a person wants to serve, the food sensitivities of the people who would eat the food, and the instant population of the most appropriate ingredients into a shopping list. It was around this time that Mounir met Nicholas Gilman, at the time a successful global business development consultant, and himself a serial entrepreneur. Not long after, Mounir and Nigel co-founded Kimera Systems with Nick.
The fledgling company raised some seed money to finance continued research and development. They began showing their theory and use cases to telecom executives in the Silicon Valley and at trade shows like Super Mobility Week. Those who saw Kimera’s technology and understood the theory were wowed, and industry recognition began to follow them. Kimera’s team began to grow as well, with the addition of several advisors and technologists signing up to come along for the ride.
It is said that the best discoveries in science were all accidents. Mounir never intended to create a single algorithm AI technology, it was just the right technical solution to the great many problems he and his partner wanted their technology to solve. Mounir, now working with a small team of software engineers, succeeded in developing a working single-algorithm AI. It wasn’t until Mounir read “On Intelligence,” a book by Jeff Hawkins, co-founder of Palm and Handspring, that he realized what he was creating: ambient intelligence based on a single algorithm. If he was right, he was working on the greatest achievement yet in artificial intelligence.
Tragically and unexpectedly, Nigel Deighton suffered a heart attack and passed away in 2013. To honor their esteemed colleague, Kimera’s team unanimously decided to name the technology he co-created after him. Thus, Kimera’s single algorithm, general intelligence technology would henceforth be called “Nigel.”
By the end of 2013, Kimera was discussing AI strategy with many important prospective customers, including Vodafone, Huawei, Sony, LG, Verizon, NTT DoCoMo and multiple other connected device manufacturers and network operators from across the world. In 2014, the company was recognized by the Telecom Council of the Silicon Valley, naming Nigel one of the “Most Disruptive Technologies.”
The company began partnering with app companies and developers to bring Nigel to market via beta tests and early user adoption, and more strategic future employees began collaborating with Kimera. In August of 2016, Nigel leapt from its testbed into a production environment, and the first group of beta testers installed Nigel on their smartphones via the Heads Up System app. Now as Nigel gets ready for its big debut in front of the artificial intelligence industry at AI World (November 2016), the company stands on the brink of closing the Series A funding that will allow it to bring Nigel to market and change the world forever.