Early Days in the AI Lab at NASA Ames Research Center

Megan experimental plane.jpg

A critical aspect to forming my new startup is defining the culture of the company. One of my most productive and enjoyable work environments was at NASA Ames in the late 1980s.

My early career started at NASA’s AI Lab in Silicon Valley, which was modeled after academic research institutes, where we either published or perished, while building on our Ph.D theses to advance technology in ways that were often too esoteric to have practical applications in the real world.

So we all published, and a few perished, but in the end, Senior Management decided that AI needed to be applied to NASA’s projects to be useful, so the lab was restructured under new leadership.

What I remember most about those days was the sense of being part of something on the extreme cutting edge. We were continually reminded that what we were doing would lead to radical changes in how the world worked, and sure enough, several decades later, the world looks nothing like it did back then. It has become significantly worse, and as many have pointed out, AI is now a greater threat to the future of humanity than nuclear weapons.

Whether we choose to believe the rhetoric or not, there is no doubt that the tech elite are unable to break away from their current mindset to create anything new. Just as in the AI lab, they continue to build on their empires, integrating more AI and more automation, while replacing humans with robots at a frightening pace.

Even back in my early career, I knew that tech for tech’s sake was not inherently useful or good.

So I am starting my new company, Reloquence, with the premise that there is a balance between AI and human creativity, and that it is still possible to create new efficiencies without sacrificing the innovative environment that made my early days at NASA Ames one of the highlights of my long career.

Reloquence is an influencer marketplace for art, relevance, tech, travel and transportation. At this early stage in my startup, it is still mostly a sandbox, but one that allows me to explore new ideas and to try new approaches to influencer marketing that would not otherwise be possible.

I have begun to define the architectural building blocks of the operational system, and to define the requirements for designing and developing a transparent, open source marketplace that will enable the “network effect” to occur organically and efficiently.

In a future post, I will discuss the open source version of Sharetribe, and how that software can allow Reloquence to be co-created, accelerating the process of building my 2-sided marketplace of influencers and brands.