Glenn Taylor: We’re Developing AI Technology to Make People’s Lives Better

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Glenn Taylor - Scientist Spotlight

Glenn Taylor, a senior scientist at SoarTech who leads SoarTech’s Human-Machine Interfaces Focus Area, grew out of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Michigan where he met the founders of SoarTech. “I knew all the founders from attending school there,” Glenn said. “Frank Koss and two other founders originally hired me as a software engineer to do UI development in support of the ‘Exercise Editor,’ a way to specify missions for TacAir-Soar. But I really wanted to work on TacAir-Soar itself, which I soon transitioned to, and that opened many other opportunities.”

Even before joining SoarTech, Glenn had an interest in teaming and communicating with robotic systems. “Luckily, I get to work on these problems here at SoarTech,” he said. “Every project I’ve worked on has had extremely difficult problems, some far beyond where the current science is, which is always exciting (and just a little scary).”

“We’re developing AI technology – not in a vacuum, but to make people’s lives better,” he explained. “We have to keep our prospective users in mind when we’re designing and building these systems, whether it’s to help people interact with AI more easily, to help solve problems with them, or to explain to them what our AI systems are doing so users can learn to trust them.”

He hasn’t always wanted to be an AI scientist – when he was a kid, he thought about being an archeologist, a marine biologist, an astronomer, or a writer. “Early AI movies got me interested when I was a teenager and I’ve stuck with that as a career.”

Looking at his accomplishments during his time at SoarTech, Glenn feels one of his most fulfilling is helping grow the company in order to “keep bringing in smart people to help solve the hard problems.”

Glenn said some of his best experiences at SoarTech are the times he’s met and interviewed the warfighters who SoarTech is trying to help. “It never fails to ground me and keep me focused on what we’re trying to accomplish as an organization.”

Plus, Glenn noted, in getting to know warfighters, he’s gotten to do fun things. “They have let me fly their drones, tag along with medics during training, ride in a MEDEVAC, interview pilots in a MQ-9 ground control station while they’re flying, and observe in an air traffic control tower while they’re directing traffic. I’ve event gotten teargassed during a Marine Corps training exercise.”

When he’s not having “fun” with his work, Glenn likes to spend his non-work time doing a variety of hobbies including playing guitar, writing, visual arts and pinhole photography. He also likes cooking, astronomy, woodworking, genealogy and teaching his dog to talk.

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