Billionaire Mark Cuban is often the guy on “Shark Tank” who graciously declines to make an investment into one of the hopeful entrepreneurs pitching to him and a panel of investors. He’s also backed some smash hits whose revenues have soared. While his latest investment may not be on “Shark Tank,” Cuban has found a cause worthy of his name – artificial intelligence (AI) startup Hala Systems that helps to save lives in war-torn regions including Aleppo. Cuban announced on Twitter that he’s pouring $1 million into the company, saying:
“Hala uses AI for social good to do truly extraordinary work in the world’s toughest places.”
Hala is behind an “early warning system” that alerts Syrian civilians when an airstrike has been launched. The system uses a combination of AI technology, IoT, and “remote sensing” to track, predict, detect, and identify danger. So far, the system, which is called Sentry Syria, has “saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of injuries,” according to the announcement . Syrians living under the constant threat of bombs are given a heads up of between seven and 10-minutes, which is enough time to lower the death rate by between 20% and 30%. As Mark Cuban noted, “Hala is saving lives where they’re nearly impossible to save,” adding:
“Sentry is a great example of using AI for good in one of the toughest places on Earth. Technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are powerful foreign policy tools, and they should be used more to promote stabilization along fragile geopolitical fault lines — to move upstream in tackling problems like migration, terrorism, and genocide.”
Syrians subscribe to the Sentry service via their mobile phones. The company trains the locals on how long they have to hide after the warning message arrives.
Cuban, who is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, knows how to work just as hard as he plays and is even rumored to be exploring a possible 2020 presidential bid.
With Mark Cuban’s $1 million, Hala Systems plans to expand into different regions and build new products “for new use cases and markets.” The company recently gained a foothold in Yemen and in addition to saving lives their technology also provides asset protection. Among Hala Systems’ founders are a rocket scientist and “former U.S. diplomat.”