The IEEE Medal of Honor, established in 1917, is the highest IEEE award. Dr. Asad M. Madni is the 2022 recipient for Dr. Madni’s decades of global outstanding contributions and innovations. Dr. Madni’s remarkably compelling career, globally useful deep insights and lessons; captivating pioneering stories of innovation, invention, leadership; future predictions, and top recommendations; are explored in this extensive interview which is unscripted and provided in full below.
The IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, its roots dating back to 1884, and with more than 420,000 members in 160-plus countries, is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Dr. Madni embodies all of the excellence in this iconic organization.
This article is based upon insights from my daily pro bon0 work, across more than 100 global projects and communities, with more than 400,000 CEOs, investors, scientists, and notable experts.
Dr. Asad M. Madni’s Brief Profile
Dr. Madni’s profile fills volumes due to hundreds of extensive contributions. A summary can be found with the IEEE TEMS (see interview series – Stephen Ibaraki – “Transformational Leadership and Innovation…”. This direct link to the interview page contains the summary profile and video interview.
As just one example of Asad’s lasting AND continuing global impact and influence, can be found in my Forbes article on biomedical innovation which spotlights the work of the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation (TIBI) ranked amongst the tops in the field. Dr. Asad M. Madni is a founding member of TIBI’s Leadership Board.
Here’s a very short abstract from the profile summary.
A Chat with Dr. Asad M. Madni, 2022 IEEE Medal of Honor Recipient (IEEE’s highest award):
-Pioneering Inventor and Globally Transformational Innovator, Entrepreneur;
-Chairman / President / CTO;
-Worldwide Contributions recognized with 84 major honors, 6 honorary doctorates and 6 professorships, 69 issued/pending patents, 200+ refereed publications;
-Top philanthropist with endowed scholarships, educational programs, and initiatives for empowerment involving financial inclusion and underrepresented minorities.
Interview with Dr. Madni
AI is employed to generate the transcript which is then edited for brevity, clarity while staying with the cadence of the chat. AI has an approximate 80% accuracy so going to the full video interview is recommended for full precision. Time stamps are provided however with the caveat that they are approximate.
The interview is recommended for all audiences from students to global leaders in government, industry, NGOs, United Nations, scientific and technical organizations, academia, education, media, translational research and development, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work and much more.
Stephen Ibaraki 00:00
Hey Assad, thank you for coming in today, and congratulations on achieving the highest award for IEEE, the Medal of Honor, through this considerable history of success. You’re a serial entrepreneur, you’ve had exits, you’ve invented and created many, many different kinds of technologies, which you instantiated into research, but also translated it into companies. And then you are advising companies and investments and so on. It’s just really remarkable to have one person sit across all of these different domains. So again, thank you for coming in (and first of all, providing inflection points in your life that led to your remarkable history of success).
Asad Madni 00:36
Stephen, thank you. Actually, I should be the one saying thank you; looking at the outstanding and exemplary interviews that you have conducted with so many people. And just the unique manner of the depth and breadth with which you conduct these interviews has been very inspiring. So let me tell you that I am a fan of yours. And so with that, perhaps I should say in response to your question…
The digital revolution of late 1960s started defining architectures of next generation electronic systems and instrumentation. The advent of semiconductor memories, high speed and resolution analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), and microprocessors offered capabilities that were not possible to realize with analog systems alone. This coupled with electronic miniaturization and digital signal processing (DSP) techniques allowed systems to be smaller, smarter, cheaper and more reliable. I had graduated from UCLA with my undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical sciences and engineering, with specialization in electronic systems, and was enthusiastically seeking creative challenges and employment where I could utilize my education in advancing my field in a significant way.
The opportunity arrived in 1975 when Systron Donner Corporation’s Microwave Division (SDMD) offered me a position as a Project Engineer to develop the company’s first spectrum analyzer with digital storage display. SD was one of 3 leading companies specializing in Radio Frequency (RF) and Microwave components and instrumentation (the other 2 being HP and Tektronix). The company’s line of spectrum analyzers utilized the bulky, expensive, analog, variable persistence storage tubes which had severe limitations including display flicker, poor reliability and the inability to view multiple waveforms simultaneously. I was promised a technician, a junior engineer and an assembler who would be devoted solely to my project. Gullible as I was in those days, I believed in receiving this support only to realize shortly thereafter that due to “emergencies on other projects”, I would be the lone warrior championing this project. In hindsight, I believe that this was the greatest learning experience of my life. Not only did I end up designing and developing the world’s first digital storage spectrum analyzer but I learnt the value of proper soldering, circuit layout, interface between analog and digital circuits, noise reduction techniques, and above all designing for cost. This system replaced the analog storage tube with the, recently introduced, semiconductor Random Access Memory based digital display. This led to a revolution of features in spectrum analyzer capabilities including, simultaneous viewing of multiple images, adaptive sweep, digital baseline clipper, electronic cursor, data normalization, automatic bandwidth adjustment, network analysis capabilities, voice interaction, etc. It transformed the landscape of not only spectrum analysis but spawned a whole new era of low cost, highly powerful digital based instrumentation including, network analyzers, sweep generators, frequency synthesizers, etc. The innovations and resulting patents, with me as the sole-inventor, were truly seminal, they established a multi-million-dollar test and measurement market and the basis for powerful test and measurement capabilities that we enjoy today.
With this success, I was now on my way to bigger challenges. I will focus on 3 truly revolutionary technologies that I spearheaded and that were inflection points in my career.
Stephen Ibaraki 05:39
That’s pretty remarkable the work that you did and you’re coming in and creating and inventing new methods and utilizing the latest chip technologies. Let’s continue the story of all of this innovation.
Asad Madni 06:03
1.0 WORLD’S FIRST STAND-ALONE COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS ANALYZER
The analysis of communications systems comprised of transmission lines and antennas was considered complex and time consuming by the microwave industry for years. When multiple faults (impedance mismatches) existed on a line it was impossible to accurately measure their severities (due to line attenuation losses and power reflections from previous faults) and locations using historical measurement techniques such as conventional reflectometers (CR), time domain reflectometers (TDR), and swept frequency techniques (SF). Additionally, each of these techniques were: a) paralyzed in the presence of in-band, external, interfering signals b) unable to separate harmonics from reflections due to equally spaced faults (in general caused by connections between equal length waveguides or cables), and c) could not provide usable location accuracy when the transmission line was connected to an extremely narrow band antenna.
In the mid 1970’s the Naval Surface Weapons Center (NSWC), Dahlgren Virginia established the Combat Readiness Electromagnetic Analysis and Measurement (CREAM) Program. As part of this program, NSWC issued a RFP soliciting innovative solutions to provide an accurate and fast analysis of RF and microwave communication systems that included waveguides, coaxial cables, antennas, and in certain cases directional couplers. It was further mandated that the system operation and interpretation should be simplified to a point where an E-3 technician would be capable of performing the entire test, reliably determine system faults, and be able to fix them.
I introduced the concept of using DSP techniques in conjunction with Frequency Domain Reflectometry (FDR) to develop a stand-alone system, which would be capable of identifying the true severities and locations of multiple faults along a coaxial or waveguide transmission line/antenna system (within inches and within minutes). It is worthwhile to note here that besides my small team which included a full-time technician, a junior engineer; and occasional part-time software programmer; no one in upper management had sufficient confidence or understanding to believe that my concepts would work and result in a usable system. Needless to say, my project was classified as extremely “high-risk” and I was funded in a most frugal manner. I was, however, extremely fortunate that the late Dr. Robert J. Haislmaier, Office of Chief of Naval Operations and the CREAM project manager, Robert B. Windle believed in me and assured me that if I could develop a prototype system that could perform the tasks in the time that I claimed, I would be funded sufficiently well to take this system into flown blown production and that it would become a standard equipment for testing the communication system on every US naval vessel. The resulting system that I subsequently invented, was referred to as the AN/PSM-40 Antenna Test Set and its commercial version as the Transline Analyzer®. This was a landmark contribution in the area of RF and microwave instrumentation and system design. It also served as the topic of my doctoral dissertation.
The patented correlation and interpolation techniques of microwave signals was a major breakthrough in overcoming the limitations identified above and this stand-alone system replaced 9 instruments that took weeks to perform the measurements by highly trained personnel with much lower accuracy. Key feature of the new technique included determination of the severity and location of multiple mismatches in a single pass. NSWC had me making presentations to various departments of the Navy in order to receive production funding. My big moment came when Dr. Haislmaier arranged for me to make a presentation to a select group of Admirals at the Pentagon followed by a shipboard test on the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) at Norfolk, Virginia. My presentation was extremely well received by the Admirals but the shipboard test posed some unique challenges. The system showed that there was a discontinuity at a particular location in the waveguide/antenna communication system. The engineers swore that the system made an erroneous measurement, since at the specified location there was only a curved piece of waveguide (with the curve pointing downwards) and there were no connectors remotely close to it. I requested them to carefully disconnect that entire section of the waveguide without re-orienting it. When I received the waveguide, I turned it vertical only to show that a large amount of water had collected at the curve. We replaced the waveguide after removing the water and re-ran the test which indicated that the particular location in question was now fine. This convinced every skeptic in the area and I received my first million-dollar contract for SDMD.
The system performance was tested extensively under laboratory conditions, field conditions, and shipboard performance and it eventually went into full blown production and continues to be in the US Navy inventory. This system has unlocked revolutionary innovation value from the US Navy’s $160B annual budget, has long become standard test equipment for the US Navy while exponentially enhancing its combat readiness as well as those of our allies that adopted it.
When the year-end time came for bonuses my technician and I received several handshakes and numerous words of praise while the marketing and engineering upper management shared the cash bonus for winning this major award. I realized then that when I reached a position of authority, I would rectify these types of practices and I indeed did so.
Stephen Ibaraki 15:40
Again, remarkable innovation, but also sitting at the boundary of what you know, instead of the near impossible, making it possible. And resiliency, perseverance, and commitment; this concept of GRIT, from Angela Duckworth, sort of a variation of GRIT. But combined with perseverance and optimism, and pushing through against incredible challenges, and yet succeeding, and then learning the lessons of reward and recognition and providing another way of balancing that. So let’s continue this journey.
Asad Madni 16:20
2.0 SERVO CONTROL SYSTEM FOR THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE
Since the acquisition of the major assets of Systron Donner by BEI Technologies, Inc., in 1990 I was involved in the development of several advanced systems, each of which posed their own unique challenges. In particular I would like to highlight the development of an extremely slow-motion, dual-axis servo control system for Hubble Space Telescope’s (HST) star selector that provided the HST with unprecedented pointing accuracy and stability, resulting in truly remarkable images that have enhanced our understanding of the universe. This system allows a fine lock to the guidance system, thereby, providing a highly stable reference required for pointing the HST and maintaining a pointing accuracy equivalent to pointing at the face of a US quarter dollar as seen from 200 miles away and the pointing stability less than the width of the quarter dollar over a 24-hour period. This required development of optical encoding technology with accuracies previously unachieved (up to 23 bits of resolution) together with advanced actuation and signal processing techniques that would allow HST to scan a portion of the sky while orbiting earth at approximately 18000 mph. The system is still in use, 30 years since it was launched in 1990, with its pointing accuracy/stability resulting in over one million truly remarkable images such as the discovery of Pluto’s moons and the formation of galaxies thousands of light-years away.
Stephen Ibaraki 19:43
You have this revolutionary MEMS gyro chip technology. It’s quite remarkable and something that consumers and business people can relate to. But, it’s beyond the domain of the military. And chip guidance and things like that, and, systems and testing systems on chips. Also, it’s used in the consumer marketplace with stability control. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Asad Madni 20:18
3.0 WORLD’S FIRST COMMERCIALIZED MEMS GYROSCOPE TECHNOLOGY
(This material is adapted from previous published articles by Madni, et al.)
In the early 1990s, after BEI had acquired the major assets of Systron Donner Corp., the SD Inertial Division (SDID), celebrated 40 years of excellence in satisfying the inertial needs of Aerospace & Defense (A & D) markets, primarily with a product line of high precision accelerometers for space, missile and aircraft applications. The company acquired a new MEMS rate gyroscope technology concept based on a Coriolis force tuning fork, but the technology had yet to be commercialized for high volume production. The end of the Cold War forced a significant reduction in SDID’s overall business as older product demand declined while the new technology had not yet penetrated significant markets.
The Quartz Rate Sensor (QRS) exhibited promise for manufacturing with high-volume methods, however, the low production volume demand before 1995 could not justify the capital expense to automate the low-volume, labor-intensive manufacturing methods. We clearly needed a growth strategy to take advantage of the promise of the QRS.
After performing an extensive market survey, we identified a significant growth opportunity for an extremely low-cost solid-state rate gyroscope for automotive stability control brake systems. Since gyroscopes had never been engineered and adapted to automotive service, the application represented a new challenging and emerging market. “Stability Control” (SC) systems measure the vehicle yawing (turning) rate and a brake computer compares it to the desired yaw rate from the driver steering wheel command. A skid condition is detected by an out-of-tolerance comparison in a software algorithm. This detection causes a momentary automatic application of either left or right brake(s) to correct or “stabilize” the vehicle. SC systems enhance the safety of traditional Antilock Brake Systems (ABS) for a relatively small increase in cost. The automotive application required a gyroscope with extreme reliability, very low cost, built-in-test capability and high-volume manufacturability. The MEMS QRS conceptually met all of these requirements. A strategic decision was made by myself in my capacity as President, COO and CTO of BEI together with Charles Crocker, BEI Chairman to target the automotive requirement and to initiate conversion from an exclusively A&D business. Among the most formidable challenges that the company faced were the massive cultural and infrastructure changes which had to be made over the next five years to accommodate this new business mentality, while not abandoning the A&D business. Several areas were impacted including: the quality system, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) computer system, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) customer ordering, statistical process controls, factory automation, technology road-mapping techniques for continuous cost reduction, engineering design and validation techniques for lowest unit cost and development of a global supplier and customer base.
Under my leadership, QRS manufacturing processes and techniques were re-designed for mass-production primarily in fork fabrication, fork balancing and hermetic packaging, and final assembly, calibration and test. All labor-intensive processes were replaced by automation and proofing against human error. Continuous cost reductions were planned with five-year Technology Roadmaps. Products achieved the primary customer needs of performance specifications and continuous fault detection capabilities for safety-critical applications. A common quartz fabrication facility served both A&D and automotive product lines. Other low cost, high volume automotive components were fed into selected A&D products for extremely favorable cost benefits. These major changes (based on leveraging the A&D technology into the automotive and transportation markets, and reverse leveraging high volume, low-cost automotive components back into A&D markets) allowed SDID to dramatically ramp up production, shipping millions of units while it continued serving the A&D market.
The QRS technology, eventually called the GyroChip®, met key performance characteristics that were orders of magnitude better than the automotive application in the A&D gyroscopes which were focused on micro-miniature Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) and other high-performance solid-state rate gyro applications. The automotive challenge hinged on reducing unit cost of the GyroChip® to “double-digit” dollar levels from the three and four-digit levels common to A&D products. The cost reduction occurred primarily through selective investments in automation, significant advances in design techniques, and mass production techniques.
The classic semiconductor industry technique of more chips per silicon wafer was embraced by progressively moving from one tuning fork per wafer to 2, 4, 8, 16, and 56. All these designs utilized the same size wafer. This batch manufacturing, together with laser trimming and electronically programming calibration techniques, radically reduced the cost per tuning fork. Performance degradation caused by fork size reduction in such mass-based sensors was not only significantly mitigated but the revolutionary tuning fork designs actually improved the performance.
Another major hurdle was to implement Self-Monitoring for Safety Critical Systems. Rate gyroscope applications frequently occur in systems that create a dangerous situation if the gyro fails without the host system detecting that the rate-sensing device is providing faulty information. Automotive stability control brake systems generate direction-changing brake commands independent of the driver. For this reason, this “safety system” may become an “unsafe system” if it erroneously activates the brakes. Unlike other limited self-tests, the BEI GyroChip® was embedded with a patented technique called Continuous Built-in-Test (CBIT), which can monitor end-to-end sensor and electronics health continuously during operation. CBIT is a major contributor to stability control brake system safety.
The first high-volume production of the GyroChip® Yaw Rate Sensor commenced in June 1996 for application in the Cadillac StabiliTrak™ brake system. An unexpected event in the fall of 1997 determined that the market would mushroom at rates that were multiple of 100 percent per year. This event was the loss of control and rollover of a new European vehicle by a Swedish automobile magazine editor while executing a maneuver to simulate avoidance of an animal, such as an elk, crossing the road. This created a firestorm of adverse publicity and in reaction to the “Elk Maneuver” episode, the manufacturer committed to fit all future vehicles with stability control. European manufacturers seized on a marketing opportunity and decided to significantly ramp up their offerings of stability control. GyroChip® demand skyrocketed by a factor of 10 to over 400,000 in the first full year of production for Europe. By 2002, SDID had shipped well in excess of 5,000,000 GyroChips®.
We had to learn how to walk and run at the same time. With a focused leadership and pioneering technical innovations, the Gyrochip® evolved from a single axis Yaw Rate Sensor to a fully packaged Automotive Inertial Measurement Unit.
Using the success and knowledge gained through this low-cost manufacturing experience, SDID leveraged this engine of low cost, high-volume products back into the A&D market and made major inroads in the commercial aviation market.
The GyroChip® technology revolutionized navigation and stability in aerospace and automotive systems. Its applications range from satellites to airliners and cars. It is in use worldwide in over 80 models of passenger cars for automotive stability and rollover protection systems; in over 90 types of aircraft including the ACE Pitch Stability Control of Boeing 777/stretch 777; as Yaw Damper for over 3000 Boeing 737s; in most business jets for attitude heading and reference; and for guidance, navigation & control in major missile, UAV, helicopter & space programs. It is also the main technology for Rockwell Collins’ Pro-Line 21 & GHC-3000 avionics suites; NASA’s “Sojourner”, EVA robotic camera-AerCAM Sprint, numerous satellites; and ARCHER airborne Hyperspectral Imaging System used by Civil Air Patrol in Search/Rescue and Disaster Management missions.
The re-engineering of BEI that I led resulted in one of the most successful “Defense Conversion” stories. The GyroChip® cost was reduced by orders of magnitude and met with unprecedented acceptance by the automotive industry. Electronic stability and roll over prevention are of paramount importance to human safety which, thanks to our efforts, we all enjoy when driving a car or flying on an airplane.
By 2005, over 55 million Gyrochips® were produced; their use for stability augmentation in passenger cars has saved millions of lives around the globe. This technology together with associated sensing technologies that my team and I developed, generated over $2 billion in revenues for BEI, while enabling hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for its customers across the globe.
Simply put, the GyroChip is to autonomous vehicles, what the atom is to matter; it is a fundamental building block, without which, today’s progress in reaching a place of autonomous vehicle ubiquity would not be possible. We paved the way for a new industry that will span most of the 21st century.
Under my leadership, BEI became the world’s largest independent supplier of MEMS YAW and Roll/Stability Control (RSC) sensors for cars. In 2005, together with Charles Crocker, I spearheaded the sale of BEI Technologies to Schneider Electric for approximately $ 600 Million. In addition to serving as President, COO and CTO of BEI Technologies, I was appointed Chief Technology Officer for Schneider Electric’s Custom Sensors & Technologies (CST) Group (2005-2006) which included all the BEI companies, Kavlico and Crouzet Automation (revenues ≈ One-Billion Dollars, and ≈3000+ employees). I declined the CEO position for Schneider’s CST in favor of planned retirement from BEI in 2006 in order to pursue activities with the US National Academy of Engineering and as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor and Distinguished Scientist at UCLA. CST’s commercial portion of the business, which consisting of products and technologies that my team and I invented or led the research and development of, was sold to Sensata in 2015 for One-Billion Dollars.
Stephen Ibaraki 40:33
So let’s take a minute here. I’m just going to summarize a little bit for the audience because you’ve covered so much. Initially, you describe your tenure, as an engineer with Systron Donner Corporation, where you were there for 18 years. You worked, developed, and pioneered; had tremendous challenges; seminal and pioneering developments in RF and microwave systems and instrumentation, which is proliferated in combat readiness with the US Navy and the Department of Defense, and to simulate more threat representative ECM environments, current and future advanced warfare training, and so on; just just a remarkable history. You eventually became chairman, president and CEO. Because it’s just repeated contribution after contribution, after contribution. You then went into a company called BEI Technologies Inc., headquartered in California. You were responsible for the development and commercialization of intelligent micro sensors and systems for aerospace and military, transportation, commercial, including, and let’s separate this now, extremely slow motion servo control system for the Hubble Space Telescope’s Star Selector System, which is unprecedented in its accuracy and stability. And you gave some really interesting measures. This idea, at a long distance, seeing a quarter dollar, and really resulting in all the remarkable images that we see. Separately from that, you led this journey of the revolutionary MEMS GyroChip® technology, which today is used worldwide in commercial innovation, Stability Control and Rollover Protection in passenger vehicles, future autonomous vehicles; saving millions of lives; a very, very successful innovation. You became president and chief operating officer, CTO of that organization. There was a $600 million acquisition by Schneider Electric, but then within Schneider, you in turn, had an executive position and continue this innovation journey of remarkable contribution of which those portions of Schneider which were acquired later for over a billion. Just literally a continual series of translational leadership, taking research into commercialization, and, taking on that cost factor which is something that a lot of researchers don’t understand. As you indicated, if you have an unlimited budget, you can develop to any kind of performance standard, but when you have to do it with a cost constraint or to keep it affordable, so that it could be scalable globally, that introduces this whole number of other challenges which you have repeatedly surmounted. I now want to go into the more engineering contribution side, and for example, UCLA and so on. Did I capture that summary, correctly?
Asad Madni 43:45
I think you captured it extremely well. The only thing I would say is that BEI Technologies was formed and listed on NASDAQ. When the parent company…of Systron Donner Corporation, decided to divest all that US aerospace and defense companies, and BEI Electronics, the company which was in motion control systems and pointing systems, and sensors like pressure sensors and position sensors, acquired the major assets of Systron Donner Corperation, which included the inertial division, included other sensing divisions, but not the microwave division where I was, but I was at that point, leading the sale of Systron Donner major assets to BEI Technologies in 1990. So the combined company was known as BEI Technologies. Charles Crocker stayed as the Chairman (and CEO); I as the President, Chief Operating Officer, CTO just as a clarification.
Stephen Ibaraki 44:44
I can see this journey; that’s a narrative of continuing development but also with colleagues that you trust and form relationships with and a similar mindset, as you continue, from Systron Donner to BEI Technologies, and then to excel. Okay, now let’s get into your current areas of interest and your view of trends. We only have about 15 minutes left.
Asad Madni 45:08
Okay, we’ve got very little time left. So I will now do what you’d asked me, I’ll tell you a few things that I’m working on right now. And then I’ll give you a little bit of my vision for the future.
1.0 ULTRA-HIGH DATA THROUGHPUT AND WIDEBAND INSTRUMENTATION FOR THE DETECTION OF RARE EVENTS
It is a different technical approach based on the Photonic Time-stretch Technology that was developed in Prof. Bahram Jalali’s lab at UCLA. I provided the innovations in time and frequency domain signal processing techniques.
In our digital world we convert real time analog signals by digitizing them with analog-to-digital converters (ADC) and then process them. This, however, places a limit on the bandwidth of the signal that we wish to digitize based on the conversion speed of the ADC. As a result, extremely high frequency signals or one-time rare event occurrences cannot be digitized, placing a limit on the system performance. As opposed to traditional approaches, time-stretch transformation of wideband waveforms boosts the performance of ADCs and digital signal processors by slowing down analog electrical signals before digitization and enabling ultra-high throughput and precision capture of wide-band analog signals so they can be digitized in real-time with a slower, higher-resolution, more energy efficient ADC.
The photonic time-stretch front-end consists of a femto-second mode locked laser (MLL), creating a linearly chirped optical signal, which is modulated by the incoming electrical data. As a second step, the data signal is stretched in time by the propagation through a dispersive fiber which reduces its analog bandwidth to fit within that of the digitizer.
Photonic time-stretch has enabled the development of various high-throughput, real-time instruments for science, medicine, and engineering applications. The technology has been employed for the discovery of “rare events” such as Optical Rogue Waves (Mariners have known for centuries that freak, giant waves can appear out of the blue in the ocean) and soliton explosions (striking nonlinear dynamics in dissipative systems. In this state, a dissipative soliton collapses but returns back to its original state afterwards). Time-stretch was used to directly observe the relativistic electron bunch microstructures with sub-picosecond resolution in a storage ring accelerator. It has enabled the record throughput of instruments such as serial time-encoded amplified microscopy (STEAM) and high-speed quantitative phase imaging for label-free detection of cancer cells in blood with a sensitivity of one cell in a million. A time-stretch accelerated processor (TiSAP) was used to perform real-time, in-service signal integrity analysis of 10 Gigabit/s streaming video packets for the first time on a commercial optical networking platform and for ultra-wideband single-shot instantaneous frequency measurements. Various research groups across the world have adopted time-stretch as a technique for the characterization of ultrafast phenomena and for increasing the resolution limits of high-speed ADCs.
2.0 COMPUTATIONAL SENSING AND WEARABLE SENSORS
Utilizing AI and ML techniques to create cost-effective, high-performance sensors that can be commercialized for various applications.
Wearable sensors utilizing wireless sensing technologies for non-intrusive monitoring of biological data.
WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE ART NOW? CURRENT TRENDS
Today we have unbelievable technology at our disposal. Three important examples are a) low-cost miniaturized sensors utilizing MEMS and nanotechnology which makes them ubiquitous in everyday applications b) miniaturization and increased density of memory chips together with cloud computing for data storage, computation, manipulation of data and signal processing and c) AI and ML to provide intelligence that can handle large amounts of data and perform previously unimagined tasks.
Heterogeneous Integration and Performance Scaling: Interpret and implement Moore’s Law to include all aspects of heterogeneous systems and develop architectures, methodologies, designs, components, materials and manufacturable integration schemes, that will shrink system footprint and improve power and performance.
An area of great importance where advances are being made, as engineering strives to better human lives, is human-centered technologies—enabled by converging engineering advances in sensing, computing, machine learning, and data communication—which will draw on machine intelligence (MI) to help understand, support, and enhance the human experience. The challenge is to create technologies that work for everyone while enabling tools that can illuminate the source of variability or difference of interest.
I believe that AI and ML will play extremely important roles in taking us to the next level in several areas. AI relates to a form of execution demonstrated by machines, that traditionally has been associated with humans or animals. From simple robots (“Talos” in ancient Greece 2000 years ago) to the self-driving cars of today that seek to replace a human driver. These examples, both ancient and modern, fall under the realm of “weak AI” that is pre-programmed to address tasks that would have been given to a human.
The question that arises is—-where will the field go next? Professor Achuta Kadambi (of UCLA) and I wrote an essay for 50th anniversary commemorative edition of NAE’s Journal Bridge on this topic.
We emphasized that the untapped future of AI, where revolutionary progress awaits, lies in “strong AI”, where machines act as a teacher to humans. When humans learn from such machines it is possible to receive unexpected insights that yield a change in practice.
One future of strong AI lies in scientific discovery, a disruptive tool to unblock stagnated fields of science. Where a human can only apply the same known techniques in their arsenal, the unexpected insights from an AI might be the wiggle that is needed to get the wagon wheel out of the rut.
Consider the field of physics. The last 30 years have seen little progress on fundamental questions like explaining the wave collapse (do a search for these key topic areas and/or use Wikipedia…as noted by Asad, in quantum mechanics, wave function collapse occurs when a wave function—initially in a superposition of several eigenstates—reduces to a single eigenstate due to interaction with the external world. This interaction is called an “observation”). Part of the challenge is that physical observations have become much more expensive to collect (the so-called “Big Science”) and also difficult to interpret by humans. From Newton to Einstein, we have seen a remarkable jump in the complexity of the observations required to validate a theory.
Today, however, we have something that neither Einstein nor Newton had: ever-increasing computational power. This motivates a new paradigm for physics, which we refer to as “artificial physics”. The artificial physicist could operate in a way that is almost contradictory to a human. Where a human can test a small set of curated theories on a sparse set of data, a machine can test a huge number of combinatorial possibilities on massive datasets. It is certainly a radical change in approach, but hopefully one that can yield a radical change in results. For example, consider a computer program that can re-discover Einstein’s famous equations. We have not yet observed a technology that can automatically intuit these equations – one of the challenges is that Einstein’s equations are a human-interpretable construct – but a solution might build upon work in symbolic equation generation.
However, the road ahead to scientific discovery is not easy. For the moment, human engineers and computer scientists will have to create the “artificial physicist”. We will struggle with questions of interpretability. If the artificial physicist were to be based on a deep neural network, how does one enforce human interpretability. In other words, how does the output of the artificial physicist guarantee an output equation that meaningfully maps to what humans can interpret?
The future of AI lies in grappling with these nuanced challenges. There are multiple frontiers that could be explored. A first frontier lies in interpretability. If a machine is to teach humans new insights, both partners must speak the same language. Imagine if a hybrid team could be formed where two physicists work together: one is an artificial intelligence, the other real. A second frontier relates to novel algorithms and architectures to implement AI. Today, neural networks (“deep learning”) is the dominant approach to implementing weak AI. However, such methods are pre-programmed rather than self-thinking. Yet a third frontier of AI lies in unblocking traditional fields, not just physics, but chemistry, medicine, and engineering. The word choice of “unblocking” is deliberate. It is one thing to use AI as a tool to augment human performance in a field – much as computers augment the author searching for a word definition. It is entirely different to have the AI drive the research field in unexpected and meaningful directions. An example of unblocking in action can be found in the optical sciences. Progress in optical design long-held that Fourier coded apertures were optimal. With the advent of AI, optical scientists have been successfully using AI algorithms to create unexpected aperture masks that depart from – yet also outperform – Fourier masks. … For thousands of years humans have been teaching AI to do our chores. It might be time that we let AI teach us how to innovate in new and unexpected ways.
Stephen Ibaraki 54:58
I’m going to inject some ideas because we’re getting into time constraints now. I think the work of Judea Pearl at UCLA is really interesting, and sort of causal models that he’s created. I think that it’s interesting that LaMDA from Google, GPT-x (beyond the current widely used GPT-3) from OpenAI, Gato from Deep Mind, and added hybrid models, multimodal models that are coming out, in terms of AGI, more of a generalization combined with all of the aspects you talked about, and exascale supercomputing in the intersection of that with quantum computing computing (see my Forbes article with Jack Dongara, pioneer in high performance computing) and perhaps even analog computing, even the work of Pattie Maes at Fluid Interfaces, MIT Media Lab (see my Forbes article with Pattie); I just want to inject that into the audience of areas of confluence of many interesting ideas that you just suggested now. Let’s now go to your final recommendations to the audience.
Asad Madni 55:58
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE AUDIENCE.
1. Believe in yourself
2. You will encounter Ultracrepidarians—Ignore them
(Ultracrepidarian is a person who expresses opinions on matters outside the scope of their knowledge or expertise)
3. Don’t operate out of fear of failure
4. Do not become a victim of your successes (Learning Individual and Learning Organization)
“I was educated once—it took me years to get over it” ——- Mark Twain
(Deeper truth than one initially realizes!)
5. Knowledge is no longer power. What you do with it is.
6. Be creative and imaginative
“Imagination is more important than knowledge” ——- Albert Einstein
Stephen Ibaraki 58:12
Very profound and really great recommendations for the audience. Everybody to follow in terms of their life, their passions, their career, and so on. Thank you for coming in today, and sharing your deep insights with our audience; just a remarkable history of success! And again, congratulations on achieving the IEEE Medal of Honor for 2022, over transformational inventions and pioneering work. And you continue to do so as well. So thank you again for coming in.
Asad Madni 58:44
Stephen, my thanks to you, for this interview, for all that you do to keep our community updated on the latest cutting edge research with the giants of our field and for the exquisite way, the exemplary manner in which you conduct your interviews. And I’m honored to have been interviewed by. Thank you. Take care.