Irish computer genius ‘Scorpion’ lands AI drone deal with US Army
by John Kennedy
The US Army’s MQ-1C Warrior UAV. Image: US Army
Irishman with hit US TV show based on his life to bring AI to cutting edge of tomorrow’s battlefield.
Walter O’Brien, the Irishman who inspired the US TV show Scorpion, has secured a deal with the US Army that will see his company’s artificial intelligence technology used by the army’s unmanned aircraft system (UAS) fleet.
It has emerged that the US Army has awarded a contract to Stryke Industries and O’Brien’s company, Scorpion Computer Services, to deliver Scorpion’s Scenario Generator (ScenGen) AI system to UAS.
O’Brien was born in Wexford and grew up in rural Kilkenny and, as a 13-year-old, sparked an NSA investigation because of his attempts to hack NASA.
He is understood to have an IQ of 197 and holds an Extraordinary Ability EB-1-1 Visa, which is awarded to very few people for special endeavors and abilities valued by the US. Previous holders of the visa include Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.
O’Brien built ScenGen, a scenario simulator used by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gruman as well as the US Navy’s Command and Control system.
As previously reported by Siliconrepublic.com, video analysis software developed by Scorpion was used following the Boston Marathon bombing to analyse hours of footage and to help catch the bombers.
O’Brien’s exploits – though he will be the first to admit that the truth is often less dramatic – sparked a TV show named after his personal call sign: Scorpion, starring Elyes Gabel and Katharine McPhee, which is broadcast on CBS and on networks around the world, including RTÉ.
O’Brien’s Scorpion Computer Services is believed to employ more than 2,500 people – high-IQ near-geniuses whose efforts are combined to solve technical problems for governments and corporations. He has since created a Concierge Up business that opens up this network to solve all kinds of problems for individuals and businesses.
O’Brien’s brush with fame and Hollywood has continued and for last year’s Spider-Man:Homecoming he was credited as a technical adviser.
Eyes (and brains) in the skies
Walter O’Brien (centre, in green tie) pictured with US military personnel in Indiana. Image: Scorpion Computer Services
Under the new deal, Stryke Industries will licence Scorpion technology to the US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. This will be applied to the universal ground control station (UGCS) and other drone platforms.
The control station is used to command and control the US Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle, RQ-7B Shadow and MQ-5B Hunter drones. The MQ-1C Gray Eagle – also known as Sky Warrior – was developed for the US Army as an upgrade to the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.
In 2015, the Fort Wayne Base Community Council, the Northeast Indiana Industry Association and a number of current US military officials and veterans of the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and US Marines recognised O’Brien and his company for saving lives through its cybersecurity, cyberwarfare and physical security technologies. In 2016, the city of Los Angeles honoured O’Brien for his contribution to world peace.
Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, O’Brien said he could not go into too much detail about how the US Army will use ScenGen but agreed to speak generally.
“If you have drones in the sky with HD cameras and they are surveilling a city or building, like an embassy, a human would go snow blind from watching that for months and would miss a vital detail. However, computers never get tired, and so if a car was making multiple U-turns outside an embassy, if someone is digging at the side of the road where they shouldn’t be or if a structure pops up in a city where there was none previously, they would be objects of interest, or OOI, in military-speak.”
Because ScenGen operates faster than the human mind, it can spot things that humans are likely to miss.
O’Brien said that ScenGen could also be used to help in mission planning using drones, in terms of simulating surveillance and other missions to guarantee the greatest outcomes of success. He explained that ScenGen, which is also used by the US Navy, generates all possible scenarios for any given situation at a very high speed and the platform has won awards, including the Connect 2011 Most Innovative New Product in the Aerospace and Security Technologies category.
“ScenGen rapidly and exhaustively plays out every scenario and is one of the fastest AI generation machines in the world, capable of 250 human years of work every 90 minutes,” O’Brien said.
“In Afghanistan, United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was able to run more than 59,000 different war game scenarios in 10 seconds to simulate every scenario, method and vehicle, and type of attack possible in order to ensure the minimal loss of life,” he added.