UNB students are mapping your brain

Three University of New Brunswick students are using artificial intelligence to mentally map people and predict what customers want before they know it.

Turret Psychoanalytics Inc. analyzes websites such as Facebook and by using algorithms, predicts what users want to purchase.

The company was created by students Benjamin Arnfast, Jingyang Zuo and Chris Levesque. They’ve been in production since 2016 and focus primarily on developing artificial intelligence for the marketing sector.

Most targeted advertisements send information from sites you’ve already visited, but according to Arnfast, their A.I. takes this a step further by predicting your interests before you acknowledge them.

“Let’s say you’re an [avid Reddit or Twitter user],” Arnfast said. “We can take those two profiles, basically push them together, and what happens is they make a mental model of you.”
Arnfast said the A.I. compares this personal mental model to others in its database, and uses the actions and interests of similar mental models to predict what the user would be interested in. That way a person who likes sports would get gym memberships ads because their habits are similar to others who have searched for that.

Last week the students travelled to Hanover, Germany to participate in the CeBIT expo where new business technology is showcased and present their artificial intelligence company.

Arnfast collected data through social media and worked primarily with the A.I., while Zuo took on the role of chief executive and Levesque as head of security.

Because of the ease and efficiency of modern technology, A.I.’s importance in today’s society is increasing. Despite this, technological advancement is very slow in the Maritimes and start-up companies have significant trouble thriving in Fredericton, according to the creators of Turret Inc.

“One of our goals is to bring real ICT [Information and Communications Technology] sector development to New Brunswick,” Levesque said.
Attention to digital technology is stronger in Europe than in Atlantic Canada and before arriving, Turret Inc. had 14 meetings lined up from businesses from China, the United Kingdom, Germany and Lithuania. Turret Inc. believes their status as the only Atlantic Canadian company would add an element of uniqueness that makes them stand out.

Turret Inc. will showcase their “Turret Terminal,” A.I. with several business models that put it into use. Since being in Germany, Turret has gained popularity within CeBIT.

“We have a lot of interest from our foreign investors,” said public relations chief Stephanie Comeau. “We’re planning on opening an office in Switzerland to handle our new-coming clients.”

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