Erik Larson


Erik J. Larson is a research scholar on mind, brain, artificial intelligence (AI), and technology. Larson has over a decade of experience as a professional software developer and a scientist in natural language processing (NLP), a field central to artificial intelligence.

Larson worked on the famous “Cyc” project at Cycorp, a decades-long effort to encode common sense into machines. He has also been a research scientist at the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, where he led a team researching information extraction techniques for free text, a project funded in part by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories. In 2007, he founded and led a successful DARPA-funded start-up specializing in classifying and ranking opinion content on the Web.

Larson is currently working on a book that examines the overselling of AI, especially in light of the field’s actual accomplishments and realistic prospects. He has written extensively on AI and the philosophy of technology. In May 2015, he published “Questioning the Hype about Artificial Intelligence” in The Atlantic.

In addition to writing, Larson is co-founder and CEO of Influence Networks, Inc., a company that is building a search platform for discovering influential people online. The core technology is currently in use to develop college rankings based on influential faculty members, as well as for commercial purposes finding grassroots influencers on social media platforms and on the Web generally. In addition, Larson serves as Science Advisor for a company developing an Artificial Intelligence chatbot to automate the routine activities of project managers for software development projects.

Larson received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009. His dissertation crossed several disciplines and included faculty from the Philosophy, Computer Science, and Linguistics departments at UT. Larson also holds an M.A. in Philosophy from UT and received a B.A. from Whitworth College, where he majored in Mathematics as well as Philosophy.