Inside Ople – Magnus Stensmo
Ople is fueled by its talent, especially its stellar team of engineers who work hard to build models that can be used by all business types. Magnus Stensmo has been working with machine learning and data science ever since he was a college student back in Sweden. As our Principal Machine Learning Engineer, he may seem quiet and reserved at first, but he is one of Ople’s AI masterminds and a true expert in the field.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I’m from Stockholm, Sweden and I attended university there at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, where I got my Master’s and Ph.D. in Computer Science. When I went to graduate school, I spent one year in the U.S. at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies as a research assistant and visiting student. I returned to Sweden to present my thesis, which was all about machine learning and building medical and machine diagnosis systems.
What drew you to data science and AI?
There are not a lot of AI companies in Sweden, but I was familiar with the space well before coming to Ople. Spotify, for example, uses a lot of AI technology and is Swedish. When listeners get recommendations and support, that is all automated.
Everyone thinks of robots or something very complex when they think of AI, but it is essentially just clever programming. I was always interested in computers, especially this programming piece and how you could get computers to derive solutions to actual problems. However, I soon found that what was even more interesting than programming a computer was to find a way for the computer to program themselves, which is known as machine learning. That way, the computer is doing all of the complicated work. With that said, I was also curious about how the brain worked. The human brain is a lot better at learning things, but the favorite part of my job as Principal Machine Learning Engineer is building machines and making them more advanced.
How did you find Ople?
I wasn’t initially going to move to America. However, my friends and I had entered the green card lottery just for fun and I ended up getting my green card, so I decided to spend a year at UC Berkeley for my post-doctorate degree. I was really interested in machine learning and had been exploring deep learning, neural networks, and AI. I had a few roles in the Bay Area, at companies like IBM, Kaboodle, Luvocracy, and Exabeam. I ended up finding Ople through a recruiter after hearing about their vision. Ople is really focused on building this really simplified thinking model that not only experts can use, but anyone, so that really resonated with me.
What do you think is the future of AI?
Machine learning has actually been around for a while. Now it’s becoming popular because we have fast computers. It’s also interesting in terms of computer science because computers have become one hundred times faster in the last ten years. There is now an even greater need for this technology because there is lots of big data and enough information to form solutions. Therefore, I think it is pretty inevitable that more and more companies will continue to adopt this technology, as more data is gathered and the need presents itself even more.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to hike a lot. My favorite trails are around Big Basin or Yosemite National Park. I hiked back in Sweden as well.
Favorite TV show, movie or book?
I really like the reboot of American Idol, with the new judges and stage. It’s the only type of talent show I watch nowadays. The closest show in Sweden would be Eurovision, which represents different countries across Europe. It’s particularly huge in Sweden and has been around forever. I haven’t kept up with it so much anymore; it’s more of a show that I just grew up with.
I also enjoy science fiction books, particularly Daniel Suarez, who writes technology thrillers.
I don’t really have one in particular because I like a lot of different types of food. Of course, I enjoy traditional Swedish food that is the best back home but I have found a few good European bakeries in the Bay Area that make Swedish princess cake, which is this vanilla sponge cake with jam. It’s pretty famous in Sweden and my favorite type of cake. I also like the coffee here, especially Peet’s.