Tom Gruber is an innovator in technologies that augment human intelligence, individually and collectively. Applying ideas from Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Design, his work has explored how connecting people and machines can foster collaboration, learning, knowledge sharing, and getting things done.
Tom was cofounder and head of design for the company that created Siri, the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. Siri is an example of what Tom calls Intelligence at the Interface, using context-aware AI to intermediate the structured data and service ecosystem on the web. Siri went live in early 2010 and was quickly bought by Apple. Now an integral part of most Apple products, Siri issued in a new paradigm of human interaction with devices and the information services they can reach. At Apple for over eight years, Tom led the Advanced Development Group, which developed new capabilities for Siri and future products.
During the rise of Web 2.0, Tom co-founded and built RealTravel, which was one of the best places on the web to share knowledge and experiences about travel. RealTravel.com provided an environment for a community of travel enthusiasts to create beautiful travel journals of their adventures, share them with friends and family, and find other like-minded travelers. People looking for information about where to go, where to stay, or what to do in their travels learned from the authentic experiences of those who have been there. By applying machine learning to the global collection of travel journals, RealTravel was able to interview travelers and recommend places to go and adventures to follow. This is an example of what Tom calls Collective Knowledge Systems, powered by intelligent information processing of the collective experience of a large community. Over a million people used RealTravel to help plan their travel every month.
Previously he co-founded and was CTO of Intraspect Software, which created environments for professional people working together on line, collaborating in large distributed communities, learning from each other, and continuously contributing to a collective body of knowledge. Intraspect was used by hundreds of corporate customers and many thousands of users in Financial Services, Marketing Services, Professional Services, High Technology, and other globally distributed enterprises. Intraspect is an example of what Tom called Collaborative Knowledge Systems, which combined web-scale mass collaboration technology with Google-like information retrieval to build dynamic, self-sustained bodies of collective knowledge. He is also a founder and Chief Scientist of Consider Solutions, a consultancy that helps Global 2000 companies to design and implement coordinated systems of technology, processes, and human organizations to maximize organizational effectiveness.
At Stanford University at the dawn of the Web, Gruber was a pioneer in the use of the Web for knowledge sharing and collaboration. He evagelized the idea of ontologies as a technology for enabling knowledge sharing and is credited with giving the term ontology a technical definition for computer science. He established the DARPA Knowledge Sharing Library, a web-based public exchange for ontologies, software, and knowledge bases and was part of the group that established the technical foundations for what is now the Semantic Web.
Gruber also led the Stanford team that invented and deployed the first Virtual Document applications on the web that generate natural language explanations in response to questions. This continued a line of research in intelligent interfaces that ranged from knowledge-based communication prosthesis to automated knowledge acquisition from human experts.
With colleagues at Stanford, Xerox PARC, and SRI, he designed systems that provide shared virtual spaces for collaborative work, agent-based collaborative engineering, and collaborative learning. To support the collaborations of these groups and the WWW research community, Gruber created HyperMail. HyperMail turns ordinary electronic mail into a web-based organizational memory — a searchable tapestry of links and threads and conversational networks. HyperMail was used as the archive and public forum for some of the key discussions that defined the emerging ideas of the early Web. When Kevin Huges, a colleague at CommerceNet, did the work to put HyperMail into open source distribution, the product evolved into many popular forms and spread into very common use, documenting and distributing tens of millions of conversations on the web.
Today Tom is an impact advisor and public speaker. He promotes the philosophy of Humanistic AI, which he presented in a popular TED talk. He was a founding board member of the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society and advocates for the Center for Humane Technology. Tom has served as an advisor to interesting companies in enterprise collaboration (Consider, SocialText), social networking (LinkedIn), semantic web (Radar Networks), Natural Language Search (Powerset), mind mapping (Mindjet), financial services (Goldman), and open content (the Internet Archive). He currently advises companies and organizations that use AI to have a positive impact on humanity, including leaders in Assistive Neurotech, Mental Health Care, Intelligent Customer Interaction, and Predictive Assistance. He is co-founder and CTO of a new company doing Adaptive Music.
Tom is passionate about saving our global ocean and our collective intelligence.