Emotion AI: Cognovi Labs

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I’m really curious about today’s show. We have an amazing individual who has not only served our country but has been serving the future of our mind share and our emotions. He is going to do that for us today. He is going to tell us more about that. I think our audience will love our guest.

As I bring Zach on, I want you to keep a couple of things in mind. Researchers say that up to ninety percent of our decisions are based on emotions. One company claims it can tap into those feelings, including your thoughts on covid 19.

The novel coronavirus has driven panic across the globe and is now, again, on the rise surprisingly – well probably not – but there is technology to measure this anxiety. Some of it can even assign a score to our reactions. Cognovi Labs uses it to gauge emotion and deliver an outcome. One we can all understand.

If we can identify people’s underlying emotions when they talk about travel or sports products like Nike or politics, we can extract those emotions. We should be able to translate that into a motivational score to predict behavior. This is from Beni Gradwohl, CEO of this Columbus-based company.

Cognovi Labs is an emotional analytics organization launched in 2016. That technology is now referred to by the company as Emotional AI. So, it’s emotional artificial intelligence.

Today, we are going to talk to Zach Levy, who is currently the managing director of Federal at Cognovi Labs. Just to tell you a couple of things about Zach, prior to joining Cognovi Labs he spent a few years between DXC technology and Enlighten where he focused on identifying client capability gaps and leading strategic initiatives to meet the demands of mission critical technologies and services in government and military ecosystems.

Before pivoting to the private sector, Zach served in the US Army and joint organizations with distinction in various special operation forces across the Department of Defense and intelligence communities.

Due to combat injuries, he was medically retired from active duty last serving at the asymmetric warfare group (AWG). Zach specialized in information warfare, technology integration, irregular warfare, and national security policy and strategy.

Before his military service, Zach briefly served as a special agent with the US Border Patrol in San Diego.

Zach, welcome to the show.

Zach Levy: Thank you both for having me. This is an awesome opportunity. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Zach, we are really happy to have you. We have a series of questions that we want to learn more about you. Obviously Cathy and I are interested in this because it has the word emotion in there around emotional intelligence, and emotional brilliance that we are working with but it sounds like with your organization you will be able to take it to a unique, maybe different, way.

So, tell us a little bit about Cognovi Labs. How did you learn about them and their Emotion Artificial Intelligence and why did you join the team? Sounds like you have an incredible background.

Zach Levy: Sure, yeah, thank you.

I just recently decided to leave Washington DC behind and move back to where my roots are and where most of my family is to give my kids the life that I never had as a child growing up in a military family. So, in moving over here, I sought out a different career opportunity and wanted to do something a little bit different and challenge myself.

I never spent time at a start-up or small-medium enterprise, so I thought why not look there? Had someone reach out to me and say hey, here is this unique company. They have offices in New York City, Dayton, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio. You are going to Columbus, so why not check them out?

This person I had served with in the US Army and he had since moved on to Wall Street but he knew that having specialized in deception and psychological warfare and information warfare, I would appreciate what this company is trying to do in that they are looking at the power of knowing and if you can know what someone is going to do next, you have this opportunity, this time to potentially shape that outcome.

Across any ecosystem, that is really powerful to think about knowing what someone is going to do and prevent them from doing it. Whether he has considered the implications of law enforcement, the military, retail, day trading, and Healthcare.

I just learned about a recent project we started doing Pharma where we have been looking at this huge problem of people not taking their prescriptions. You have these incredible diseases, these terrible diseases, and people go through the whole hassle of getting a prescription for something to treat that. Research shows that only four out of ten actually proceed with filling the prescription and out of that four, only two complete the regiment of instruction.

So, what results in this failure to adhere to medications is a lot of loss of life and then, financially, a lot of ripple effects, both to the healthcare ecosystem and the pharmaceutical industries then ultimately to the emotional side of people and losing loved ones.

Figuring out the emotions that would trigger somebody to comply with their healthcare regimen or not, is really fascinating to me.

Stepping outside of my role in the US public sector and things like that, but you asked about how I came to Cognovi, that’s sort of the genesis of blending multiple pieces of my background. I started with law enforcement, US Military, and then academically, my focus was on social and civic issues and sociology and anthropology. Going back to my undergraduate studies, I have always been curious about why people make decisions the way that they make them and if you can influence them: How and what are those push points?

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Zach, can you tell us a little bit more about Beni and your relationship to the greater leadership group at Cognovi Labs, just as some background of the team and where they came from?

Zach Levy: Yeah, absolutely.

So, Dr. Beni Gradwohl started off his career in astrophysics as an academic. At a certain point he decided to pivot his career into the finance sector and went off and did some great things with City Group and Morgan Stanley and at one point, at the high of the financial fallout of 2008, he was in charge of the mortgage portfolio for City Bank. There were a lot of toxic assets, obviously at that point in time, but he was sent to a course at Harvard, I believe, on the power of emotion in finances and specifically in regard to marketing.

He learned that everything wasn’t about ones and zeros and actual numbers. As someone who was really focused on statistics and numbers, that was kind of an eye-opening moment for him and thinking about the emotional, psychological, and this whole human element that people make decisions. It’s not just about numbers. And then the reality of, as human beings, we are not as logical or rational as we think we are.

Listen to the entire interview above by clicking on the play button, above.

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