An interview with alumnus Dr Mazen Al-Sinan (PhD, Civil Engineering; Construction Management), 2004) about his invention, which was recently patented in the US.
Dr Mazen Al-Sinan, based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, spent years working on an Artificial Intelligence-based solution of his own that could make a real difference.
“This invention was a dream for many years but the recent progress that AI has witnessed in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and the computational capabilities turned the dream into a reality. I had to spend an enormous number of hours educating myself about AI.”
In short, the purpose of the invention can be explained as follows:
“The invention provides an autonomous solution for conducting the entire procurement process without any human intervention by employing AI in general and Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Blockchain in particular.”
According to Mazen, the invention, created in collaboration with his colleague Zainab Al-Jaroudi, could be ground-breaking.
“It could be a game-changer if it is commercialized, and the current procurement process would become a legacy. This invention might revolutionize the applications of AI in other fields that require cognitive capabilities.”
For Mazen, it was important to protect the invention and he was recently granted a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) entitled “Autonomous Procurement System”. The process didn’t come without its own challenges.
“As it was my first experience of applying for a patent, it was a little bit challenging for me. In the beginning, when I tried to explain my invention to some of my colleagues, I felt they were not taking me seriously. Despite no one believing in my invention, I deeply believed in it based on my research.”
Mazen describes the patent as his biggest success to date.
“I cannot compare this success with other achievements.”
What is Mazen’s advice to anyone who would like to reach similar achievements?
“One should have the passion to keep on going, let one’s mind wander freely, and stop seeking others’ approval. These three ingredients are imperative to succeed in any creative work.”
Mazen completed his PhD at the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering at City, University of London in 2004.
“Before I joined City, I had a Master’s degree in Construction Engineering and Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and I was interested in pursuing my PhD in Construction Management. City was the best choice for me because of its ranking, history, and maybe even its location. There is a special positive vibe about City and I am glad that I applied to City.”
His time at City helped him look at the world differently.
“My studies at City sharpened my research skills and helped in more than one aspect to broaden my perspective about life and research.”
After graduation, Mazen returned to Saudi Arabia and has been working with Saudi Aramco throughout his career as a Contracts Consultant. As technology keeps developing, he sees great potential in AI-based solutions.
“AI is no longer merely a tool to automate repetitive processes. Developments in machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) algorithms have provided AI with cognitive capabilities that could outperform human beings in the foreseeable future. For example, Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3), which was released in February 2020, is capable of producing human-like texts and performing other tasks that require human-like cognitive capabilities. This revolutionary algorithm has amazing capabilities in NLP.
Considering the advancements, what are Mazen’s own goals for the future?
“I have a wish to see my invention commercialized and my goal is to come up with something useful to humanity.”
Thank you to Dr Mazen Al-Sinan for sharing his story and big congratulations on the patent of his invention.