Artificial Intelligence for Startups (GIST TechConnect Webinar)


About GIST

The U. S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative empowers young innovators through networking, skills building, mentoring, and access to financing to develop startup solutions that address economic and development challenges.

About event

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming more impactful in the lives of everyday people. Whether it is ordering household products, conducting internet searches, playing music, providing weather forecasts, or any of the other hundreds of purposes AI can serve, people are finding it increasingly useful to assist them with day-to-day activities. Entrepreneurs all over the world are also embracing the benefits AI can provide to their businesses by improving efficiency and making their products more user-friendly and accessible to consumers.

Speaker Bios

Hassan Sawaf
Director, Artificial Intelligence at Amazon Web Services

With nearly 20 years of expertise in language technologies, Hassan Sawaf is well-recognized in the field of
machine translation, speech recognition and machine learning. In 1999, he cofounded AIXPLAIN AG, a
company focusing on speech recognition and machine translation. His partners were, among others, Franz
Josef Och, who eventually started the Google Translate team, and Stephan Kanthak, now Group Manager with
Nuance Communications, and Stefan Ortmanns, today Senior Vice President, Mobile Engineering and
Professional Services with Nuance Communications. Hassan also spent time at SAIC as Chief Scientist for
Human Language Technology, where he worked on multilingual spoken dialogue systems. He holds a Master
of Science degree in computer science from Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen,
and attended the university for his Ph.D. studies.

Joseph Spisak
Head of AI Partnerships at Amazon Web Services

Joseph has experience driving strategies and technical/business engagements around Machine Learning based
Cloud workloads such as Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Video Summarization and
Analysis, and Speech Recognition. Joseph has more than 15 years delivering products and services in Digital
Video, Cloud-based Media Transcoding, Image Processing, and Machine/Deep Learning in the consumer
mobile, broadcast, and cloud segments. Joseph holds a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Michigan
State University, an MBA and MS in Finance from the University of Denver, and is a proud graduate of the
Entrepreneurial and Innovation Certificate program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Ben Snively
Specialist Solutions Architect, Data and Analytics at Amazon Web Services

Ben Snively is a Specialist Solutions Architect on the Amazon Web Services Public Sector team, where he
specializes in big data, analytics, and search. Previously, Ben was an engineer and architect on DOD contracts,
where he worked with Hadoop and big data solutions. He has over 11 years of experience creating analytical systems. Ben holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s in computer engineering from University of Central Florida.

Stacey Wood
Global Business Development Manager at Amazon Web Services

Stacey joined Amazon Web Services Worldwide Public Sector (AWS WWPS) in April from the U.S. Department
of State where she was a Foreign Service Officer for 8 years. As the Global Manager for Startups, Stacey leads
AWS WWPS’s outreach efforts to early stage companies, with a particular focus on supporting social
entrepreneurship and civic tech. While with the State Department, Stacey lived and worked in China and in
Ghana, and helped shaped government policy around innovation, entrepreneurship, and the digital economy.
Stacey speaks Mandarin and has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Master’s
degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.


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