Meet ABR's New Team Member: Chris Longley

May 12, 2023
Dr. Travis DeWolf

Q: Could you tell me a little bit about your professional background and how you became interested in working at ABR?

I started off studying psychology and neuroscience. Later on, I got into the humanities and social sciences as well – philosophy, politics, and a bit of law. The general idea was to position myself to work at the intersection of science, technology, ethics, and policy. 

To date, I’ve been at the University of Toronto the longest. I’ve also spent time at York, Guelph, Oxford, and, most recently, Waterloo. The last of these is home to the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, as well as Chris Eliasmith’s lab, which ABR spun out of. In the past, I was more focused on behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, so the computational methods emphasized there are new and exciting. 

Q: How did you line up your job opportunity as a strategy analyst at ABR?

So, on top of my Graduate Diploma in Theoretical Neuroscience, I’m currently studying for a PhD in Applied Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. The program includes an Applied Research Placement, which aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Students do academic and preparatory work on campus, then apply it at their host organization. I’m delighted that ABR was open to participating in this.

My placement was also supported by TECHNATION’s Career Ready Program. It provides wage subsidies to Canadian businesses that offer post-secondary students opportunities like mine in tech, which they might not have been able to do otherwise due to financial constraints.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role at ABR, both in the short-term and long-term?

Well, I hope to establish new areas of market entry, for one thing. This involves a comprehensive understanding of our current product offerings, helping to identify gaps in the market where our technology could provide value, and forging strategic partnerships to ensure a successful entry.  This phase is not only about business growth but also learning. It's this sense of discovery that makes the tech industry so exciting.

Looking further ahead, I hope this translates into a successful rollout for our new Time Series Processor Chip. It’s a game changer for edge AI applications using language and signal processing. 

Q: What are some of the current projects that you are most excited to be working on at ABR?

It’s early days, but one project I’ve enjoyed is creating content which aims to make what we do more accessible. This draws on the same sort of communication skills as my earlier university teaching gigs. Currently, I'm working on creating content that explains one of the more complex aspects of our work: Legendre Memory Units (LMUs). The concepts and mathematics behind LMUs can seem intimidating, especially to those without a technical background. My goal is to bridge this gap and make LMUs, and the potential they hold for AI, understandable to a wider audience. It's about making the subject matter engaging and relatable. It's a challenging project, but seeing people's understanding grow is incredibly rewarding.

More broadly, I also enjoy contributing to discussions around business strategy and development. We’re exploring all sorts of new ideas there.

Q: What currently has you the most excited about the future of AI?

I find the application of AI to medicine and crime really interesting. Some challenging moral problems are raised there too. Also just autonomous vehicles. (I hate driving, haha.)

Besides those, I look forward to seeing how neuroscience research will continue to shape developments in AI. It’s great to be in such proximity to this at ABR.

Dr. Travis DeWolf is ABR's Sr Research Scientist II and Co-Founder. He has a PhD in systems design engineering with a focus in computational neuroscience from the University of Waterloo. He is one of the co-founders of ABR, and is an expert in the design of neuromorphic and edge AI applications and building computational models of the motor control system in the brain.

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