I had great difficulty completing this column. This is partly due to the complex nature of the technology and partly because its implications may indeed be so far reaching that I’ll sound over-reaching in describing it.

Several companies may find what I’m describing to be rather disturbing. It’ll be disturbing because this technology is on the verge of undermining most, if not all, of their product development plans.

For two nights this week I was immersed in understanding the foundational shifts about to occur inside the software development industry, and this work is all taking place inside a tiny company called Mindaptiv located in Innovation Pavilion in the Denver Tech Center, a hub of startup activity in Colorado.

With a core team of true believers on staff that filled the presentation room, the company’s CEO, Ken Granville, and chief technology visionary, Jake Kolb, took our team from the DaVinci Institute through a series of demonstrations and discussions to grasp the potential of what they are on the verge of unleashing.

Working from inside his secluded geek lab in Boston, Jake started this journey in 2011 by asking the basic question, “What if software didn’t have to be written?”

As most developers know, scripting a thousand lines of new code can be a very painful process. So what if a computer could simply recognize objects and you could just tell this JARVIS-like machine what you wanted it to do with them?

Over the past three years, that’s exactly what Jake and Ken have been building, a kind of “Ironman Room” of spatially capable objects that can be directed both verbally and through gestures with symphony-like precision. Even though they’re only partially there, it’s the kind of technology that would make Tony Stark proud.

Rest assured, I only know a few of the tricks this duo has up their sleeves, but we’re all about to become part of something much bigger than some new gadget we can all carry around in our pockets. No, this one is a game changer on steroids, and here’s why.

History Of Transformational Computer Technologies

Computer technology has gone through several fundamental shifts since they were first invented.

  1. 1944 – ENIAC: The grandfather, where Digital Computers began
  2. 1964 – IBM 360: Start of the Mainframe Computing era
  3. 1974 – Altair 8800: Start of the Personal Computing era
  4. 1990 – Tim Berners: Beginning of the World Wide Web
  5. 2007 – iPhone 1: Start of the Mobile Computing era
  6. 2015 – Mindaptiv: Entering the Semantic Intelligence era

Admittedly this is a gross oversimplification of the biggest transformations in computers. I could have included many other significant shifts ranging from the introduction of Browsers, to Search Engines, to Open Source, to P2P, to Cloud Computing, and much more.

Without a doubt, all of these elements have contributed to the evolution of today’s highly nuanced improvements leading to today’s sophisticated computer technologies.

But on a zero to ten scale for rating tectonic shifts on the Richter Scale of computing, Sematic Intelligence is drawing lines on parts of the chart that haven’t ever been written on before.

Semantic Intelligence Explained

We use our devices such as laptops, tablets, and phones to convey meaning. We talk on the phone, write and read text, emails, blogs, news, look at and send pictures and videos. We do this because these inputs and outputs symbolically represent objects with behaviors and attributes that make sense to us as humans.

We don’t see pixels; we see words that our mind converts into pictures. We don’t see all the tiny squares, circles, and rectangles on the screen, but rather what they represent. In video, we don’t see still images or individual frames. Instead, we see the fluid shifting of movement, as we would experience in real life.

Our brains are hardwired to detect objects and assign value and meaning.

To explain this more simply, humans don’t think like computers and computers, until now, haven’t had the ability to understand humans. At least not easily.

Scientists working on this problem have identified a number of semantic gaps that have prevented this from happening:

  1. The semantic gap between different data sources – structured or unstructured
  2. The semantic gap between the operational data and the human interpretation of this data
  3. The semantic gap between people communicating about a certain information concept.

The Mindaptiv Approach to Closing these Gaps 

The Mindaptiv approach is to turn every object into a set of instructions using a system for automatic object detection. This involves a process for dynamic down-sampling and up-sampling what it sees.

In doing so, every object is converted into a description, and the file size for that description is exponentially smaller than the data itself. This means that every server, laptop, tablet, and smartphone can easily be converted into a Semantically Intelligent device.

For example, a video is converted automatically and seamlessly from pixels into objects with attributes like size, shape, and color, with corresponding information about its time and space coordinates, just like our brains do.

Unlike Artificial Intelligence (AI), that requires a super computer like Watson, Semantic Intelligence, with its diminutive file structures, takes far less processing power and bandwidth. For this reason, high definition images and video, can be stored, transmitted, and presented from semantic definitions at a fraction of the time and cost it would take to send the pixels.

Taking this a few steps further, Semantic Intelligence’s size and speed advantages mean we will be able to send a text in English and have Hindi, Egyptian, or Mandarin come out the other side. Semantic Intelligence would deliver the text in the correct version of the 14 variants of Chinese, while translating between the vernacular of both the communicator and the receiver.

When it comes to the Internet of Things, the flow of “intelligence” from one device to the next will be exponentially greater. And given a few learning cycles, our devices will finally learn to “think like us.”

The pieces I’ve explained so far are only what Ken refers to as, “a few shavings of ice off the iceberg of possibilities.” It’s not even close to being the tip.

Ken Granville (right) and the rest of the team at Mindaptiv

Describing the Capabilities

One of the first demos we saw was a side-by-side comparison of a low-res photo, a jpeg under 50k file size. With one side showing the current state of the art, any zooming in on the photo resulted in a highly pixelated image.

Using Mindaptiv technology for transmitting a description rather than pixels, that same low res image could be expanded to a stadium-sized image and still maintain its crispness.

This was also demonstrated with several videos. Think about what it would be like to project a video the size of an airline hangar onto a massive wall and still maintain perfect resolution, yet transmitting the information through exponentially smaller file packets.

The second demo was designed to show how its object-capturing and object-manipulation features worked. In this presentation, a video feed of a vase showed how the vase could be selected and stripped away from the rest of its background. The vase was then placed onto a variety of different video backgrounds. In this example, the vase remained part of a live feed, so the vase itself could be repositioned, expanded, or turned sideways in real time.

Features like this will be very appealing to the special effects people in Hollywood and the gaming world.

Additional demos showed the difference in code once an object was reduced to a description. The number of lines of code dropped from thousands to dozens. Once the description file was sent to it’s receiving device, the lines of code once again expanded into its original multi-thousand-line format.

This contraction-expansion feature will have massive implications in everything from big data, to telecom, to Internet security, to new hardware designs.


Final Thoughts

Admittedly, what I’ve described so far is not enough to give you an accurate sense of what’s going on here. Even for those working on the technology, the true implications will take years to fully realize.

In my opinion, Mindaptiv is sitting on a loaded powder keg waiting to explode.

Yes, there are still any number of things that can go wrong, and this may be far too disruptive for most computer companies to readily embrace. But from my vantage point, Mindaptiv will transform the business world more significantly than the invention of the computer itself.

This is a revolution. Over time, all devices will become Semantically Intelligent. As a second step, which may happen somewhat concurrently, AI will be layered over the top, with AI adding the thinking, reasoning, decision-making, diagnosing, even feeling elements to the equation. Think of the movie “Her,” only better.

With a Semantic Intelligence layer, AI will be faster, cheaper, and perform better than anything in existence today.

Yes, I may indeed have had one glass too many of the Mindaptiv Kool-Aid. But even if they don’t manage to carry the torch across the finish line, someone else will. And personally, I can’t wait.


By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything



36 Responses to “Computing’s Next Big Transformation – Semantic Intelligence”

Comments List

  1. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>rICh</a>

    I like the concept, but am suspicious of up/down sizing without losing fidelity. Tried to glean what and how they do this from their website, but was unable to find anything to convince me. Guess I'll have to try & download the app when they release.
  2. <a href='http://ISIS6Group,BirthingNewEarthModels' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Suni Pele Nelson</a>

    Hi Thomas, Thanks for opening up the possibilities. I'm anticipating a better future with open arms; especially if it makes life easier for all people & protects the environment/nature. What a grand time to be alive! It does seem evolution of all things (including humans), higher intelligence & consciousness is speeding up. When mankind can handle that level of vibrational dimension, I say bring it on!
  3. Jake Smith

    Thomas, Thanks for the heads up on this one! This sounds great! Like rICh has already pointed out, though, there are some concerns about losing information in the downsizing that is not recoverable in the upsizing stage. I understand that the longer coded semantics before downsizing is just one representation of the information and that another representation of that same information, just in a different form, could be smaller or larger depending on that form. However, thinking of external/distributed cognition and general perspective (back to Gibson, J. J. (1966). The Senses Considered As Perceptual Systems. London, UK: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. and Hollan, Hutchins and Kirsh (2000). Distributed Cognition: Toward a New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research, ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 7 (2), pp 174-196.), it isn't the entities themselves that need to change form, it is the way they are represented in a shared network. There is always more to something the closer you look at it. We humans only pay attention to what our senses and ourselves care about.
  4. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Rich, the wait will be short. You won't even believe your eyes when you see it. Are you based in Colorado or do you have plans to visit? Tom says you're a good guy. Maybe we can get you in on a beta review. Ken
  5. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Nancy, Thanks for the enthusiasm and the question. Answer is, you're already prepared. You know a human language. Over time, that is all you'll need to know. We will be announcing plans to equip the knowledge workers of the future to change the world. Sign up on our website at to get notice of the launch of our inaugural product, illumin8. Thanks again. Ken
  6. Kevin Weller

    OK, I've read the article and other materials several times, and I have to concur with Rich. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see what the big deal is about. It sounds to me like a re-invention of lossy compression, coupled with some [possibly very good] object recognition algorithms. The hype seems to conflate ease of object model extraction with the specification of potentially complex behavior as you would find in controllers, business logic, etc. So I suspect there's no silver bullet here, though I can imagine a useful toolkit or framework may emerge for parts of specific applications, or perhaps a fancy Integrated Development Environment. What am I missing?
  7. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Hi Jake and Kevin, I completely understand the skepticism. I encourage you to sign up on our site to receive notice of the launch. No hype. There is a lossless approach to both downsampling and upsampling. It requires creating bit streams instead of mathematical shapes. There is obviously more to it. We look forward to unveiling our breakthrough tech. Thanks for your interest. Ken
  8. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Kevin, I like the way you're thinking. There are too many big improvements that Semantic Intelligence provides to cover here. I'll refrain from getting into them for now. Just know that we're entering an exciting time in human history.
  9. Michael Cushman

    Kevin W and RiCH, Feel free to give me a call or email or wait until the next Mastermind group. I'll explain the tech side. It is impressive, a new software architecture that takes full advantage of multicore and graphic chip architecture. That enables amazing processing power on ordinary devices. As for how you downsize without losing fidelity... any image may contain a hundred or so shapes with some permanence or distinction. Those objects are stored as a definitions, with all its attributes that make it unique, in dimensions of time and space. That's all I'll say here. I know software architecture. This is significantly different from and better than anything done before. Tom is correct. This technology moves computers from being semantic idiots to being able to understand humans. It hurts the brain to think through the implications, but the up side is that instead of worrying about computers replacing us, this is a major shift toward computers understanding and helping us.
  10. Eve

    Here's the problem, to my perception; not the speed with which this technology is mastered, but the speed with which society changes in the significant ways which it still needs to be capable of making proper use of this technology…otherwise, once again, we will have developed advanced technology in a rush of optimism which fast falls into the hands of people still operating on Medieval mentality &/or non-existent ethics and morality, who will promptly turns this technology against humanity and progress, utilizing it instead to further their own petty personal objectives. Until we can close the gap between the inevitability of modern technology being used by persons completely inappropriately, I feel about this much the way I feel about permitting substance abusers to operate heavy machinery in a public place! In a nutshell: I applaud the impulse and intention to build more tools for an improved world, but worry that the reality of what will be, in actuality (= if present course is maintained and past track record observed!), is something SO far from Optimal as to give pause for thought from this headlong rush for full evolution of technology, before time has fully evolved the people we co-inhabit the world WITH. What's the solution to THIS, please?! I'm sorry, but I don't think we can simply absolve scientists working on this new technology from all responsibility for outcome. Dr. Frankenstein was held responsible for creating his monster when said monster made mayhem & murder…ok so admittedly a tactless analogy, but my point being, Dr. F's INTENTIONS were surely as true as those expressed here? I'd love to believe this will lead to fabulously intelligent robots who do all our dirty work and save lives and IMPROVE lives, but experience & history informs that some horrible psychopathic group will co-opt it to form 'Terminator'-style robots instead - & right now, WHAT'S TO STOP THEM/THAT FROM HAPPENING?! Answers, ideas, practical applications? Anyone?!? Awaiting, most sincerely - thanx.
    • FuturistSpeaker

      Hi Eve, Yes, there is always the danger of technology being used in evil ways. There is no such thing as perfect tech. The same drones that deliver pizza can also deliver bombs, poison, or spy on our kids. Yet drones will become an enormously valuable asset to daily life in the near future. So how do we manage the downside? Invariably it boils down to a management issue. Yes, things can go wrong and definitely will. But that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile effort. In the case of Mindaptiv, my sense is that it will solve exponentially more problems than it creates. In fact, it may very well solve the very problems you're most worried about. Futurist Thomas Frey
  11. D L Thomas

    Eve, Life will not be denied. There will always be evil in the world - utopia is an illusion. The focus of Mindaptiv is positive, and I envision that the result will be substantially positive. Evil will most likely harness the power of the technology, just as those individuals who are driven by the force of good will execute every method to defeat them. It is about being human, and the overall psychic drama of all time. Those who seek to control human nature will also be defeated.
  12. Bren

    Hello there, Mr. Frey, I am a qualified CAD technician, who also has years of photoshop experience. I know a lot about both vector and pixel based graphics. I've checked out that website and my conclusion is that this business/service you have bought into is 'Snake Oil' of the highest order. Also, it's nothing new, google the phrase 'vector based video codec' and see for yourself. Maybe I'm wrong. Please feel free to convince me otherwise. P.S. - I'm a big fan and read all your articles. But I'm a little disappointed by this one.
  13. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Hi Bren, Love the skepticism. When presented with claims that fundamentally challenges the current understanding, a reasonable expectation is to obtain proof to ones satisfaction. Please reserve judgment for a short while longer. You'll be able to download illumin8 for your own evaluation purposes. I will clarify one misunderstanding that you currently have. illumin8 is neither pixel or vector based. Instead of attempting to remap a pixel grid into vectors, illumin8™ remaps the pixels of the object into a ‘folded geometry’, which is a spatially programmed ordering. There is much more going on, but our approach is a departure from anything else that we see in signal processing.
  14. Kevin Weller

    Admittedly knowing just enough information theory to be dangerous, I have to say that I can't imagine this being any better than compressed JSON. But I will reserve judgment until I see more. Oh, and I just watched Avengers with the family this past weekend…didn't get the Tony Stark reference until then. :-)
  15. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Hi Kevin, Wise decision to reserve judgement. Our approach does not involve JSON. It is a new approach that continuously generates auto-tuned, auto-scaled, 100% parallel instructions in a variety of languages, but is mostly kernel level code. The performance improvements are stunning. On the data side, the data objects are stored as semantic units that can be assigned individual hash IDs on the order of ten to the 38th and permuted in space/time pockets. There is much more that 's not appropriate to get into here. Your patience will be much appreciated. Please sign up on our site (bottom left of the home page) to be notified of the launch. Hint: wait until Thursday for a chance to win a big prize that is worth having with the illumin8 app.
  16. Jeff Fox

    I have had the pleasure of sitting with the leaders/team of mindaptiv on 4 different occasions, logging double digit hours of time in the process. In some cases, it involved having heads of other software development based companies in the meeting. What was most beautiful to me, is that the response from these very forward thinking minds, had the utmost respect for the innovative ground breaking work mindaptiv is doing. They immediately could see the far reaching aspects of its capabilities and applications on so many different levels. Some responses here, refer to "snake oil, Dr. Frankensteins and terminators" and while opinions, I don't see that as the case at all. With any innovation, comes refinement, improvements and often done with the intent of growing humanity toward a better today and richer tomorrow. - What if we were all still hopping into the model A to get around. Or running off hillsides in order to fly a plane to our next business meeting. It wasn't too long ago, that dial up was how you accessed an internet, and waiting for a site to load was a painstaking process. These life changing innovations, have all evolved into a better today as result of refinement. When I take the capabilities and possibilities of mindaptiv's breakthrough, I see the good that can correct many of today's evils. Possibilities, almost endless. The change, for the better. The thought of better, gives me comfort in today. Should the concerns of advancing past the gap, and technology being used in a wrong way bring us to AI machines like found in sci-fi movies, well, let's just hope the offspring of Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Arnold Schwarzenegger are ready for action. :) Let history unfold.
  17. Jay Swartz

    Tom, This sounds like some interesting compression software, but I struggle to make the leap to thinking this technology will put coders out of business. Object and metadata models coupled with APIs have been around for some time now and advances in these areas continually lower the technical bar for developing complex systems. What once took a room full of PhDs and software engineers to accomplish in a year, I can now do in minutes by passing a few arguments to an API. The acceleration is based more on leveraging ever more sophisticated and available technology components and less on abstractions, although one could construe an API as a form of abstraction. Also, the concept of the semantic web comes from the 1960s, coined by Tim Berners-Lee (not Tim Berners, ahem ;). Looking forward to seeing how illumi8 evolves. You might want to consider doing some retrospectives as part of your posts; revisiting past observations to inform us on what happened to the people, businesses and trends you highlight in your posts. For example, I would be curious to hear an update on all of those water collector companies you mentioned a while back. Regards, Jay
  18. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Hi Jay, The thing is, this is way beyond compression. This is a paradigm shift in how computing is done. It is not about putting coders out of business. After all, they are some of the best problem solvers in the world. What we want to do is give them and everyone else better tools for creating solutions. We hope that the best problem solvers of the world will apply themselves to mankind's greatest challenges. We see that as potentially a time of great possibilities. As far as what illumin8 is, you will find that it is quite different from anything else on the market today. We look forward to unveiling it by the end of the year.
  19. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    BTW, we will be publishing data about Semantic Intelligence and what our associated breakthroughs represent for computing.
  20. Jay Swartz

    Ken, Curious to hear your views on how relates to what you're doing. This, if it does indeed work, will diminish the need for certain types of coders.
    • FuturistSpeaker

      Hi Jay, Thanks for weighing in on this. Yes, we anticipate it eliminating lots of coding work, but the flip side is that it will dramatically increase coder efficiency, so every coder will be able to accomplish far more. As I mentioned in my column on exponential capabilities, we will need to set our sites on far bigger projects. Futurist Thomas Frey
  21. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Jay, I see as operating in a space that is very different from ours. Although we can generate web apps in HTML5, JScript, NaCl and other languages, we are focused on native apps that provide capabilities that a web app cannot provide. We are currently addressing the bigger challenge of higher quality content without overloading infrastructure. This is consistent with Tom's comments about going after bigger problems. Consider the net neutrality debate currently going on in the US. Fears about two classes of Internet services diminish when there is a new option that greatly reduces infrastructure demands, while increasing quality. The problem of processing and distributing increasing amounts of video extends beyond the US. It is a global problem. That makes it a great candidate for our technology. The new option provided via illumin8 has the potential to create greater opportunity by extending otherwise resource prohibitive services to a much larger global market. Ken
  22. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Karen Ingle</a>

    Mr Frey! Thank you so much for spending time with Ken Granville and Mindaptiv! I've had the blessing of meeting Ken and learning about what his company is doing - Can I just say...I want it all and I want it now! The applications for this are so far reaching. Definitely a company to keep our eyes and investments focused on!!
  23. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken Granville</a>

    Thanks Karen. The support is greatly appreciated. Make sure that you sign up on our website for the 4K TV and other great prizes with illumin8. Don't forget to share with others too. Say hi to Don. Ken
  24. Bader

    Ken, Thomas, I'd be interested in your perspective of how this will impact data communications, internet protocols for example. You mentioned semantic units...permuted in space/time. Given how the internet work today, what will change or has to change in the networking industry to leverage SI or evolve/adapt SI to future networking?
  25. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken</a>

    Hi Bader, SI works with existing Internet protocols. In fact, wider use of IPV6 will be a big enabler of SI. More news coming very soon on this.
  26. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>LeDone Garrett</a>

    Coming in on a much later phase in the development of the Illumin8 software. I am excited about the opportunity to test the technology and show the world first hand how great illumin8 will be for the industry. Thank you for allowing me to get in on this level. You have my full dedication and loyalty.
  27. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Dave</a>

    I don't get it, can I have one sentence that explains without the hype please!
  28. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken</a>

    Dave, I get that you would like a simple and short explanation for what we've created. The thing is, we are talking about a complete paradigm shift in computing. We will launch very soon, which will allow you to judge our technology for yourself.
  29. <a href='' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Ken</a>

    Daniel, This is not about vectors at all. It is a new codec that processes signal fields into objects, which can be repackaged for greater efficiency and highest quality. Signup on our website at for notification of our product launch date. Thanks for your interest.

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