Thirst for knowledge led from mussels to AI

Silo AI uses artificial intelligence to streamline production in any industry.

When Eliecer Diaz studied the size and development of fish, mussel and bird populations as a biologist years ago, he realized that he was doing mathematical analysis, and that he liked it. Originally from Chile and holding a PhD, Diaz decided to switch industries and studied to be a computer engineer.

For the past couple of years, Diaz has worked as an AI engineer at Silo AI in Helsinki.

“In the end, switching to analysis was quite natural. I already used the same statistical models that are used in AI,” he says.

Silo AI offers a range of industries AI solutions to streamline production. Diaz focuses on building cloud infrastructure for clients, and his data scientist colleagues import their own machine learning algorithms into those platforms.

“I’ve worked with 11 clients over the past couple of years. My current client is manufacturing robot hands at its factory. We analyze the data from the sensors they contain and predict the maintenance needs for the equipment on the basis of a machine-learning algorithm.”

Plenty of clients worldwide
Building cloud infrastructure is done on a laptop, nor does Diaz physically visit his clients’ premises.

“My current client operates in Switzerland. I’d love to go there at the end of the project, but it’s probably not necessary,” he says with a smile.

Because cloud services can be provided anywhere worldwide, Silo AI has to stay on the cutting edge of technology. That stops work from being moved to cheaper countries like India.

“Actually, they have some advanced AI specialists in India, and we have a lot of workers here from there,” Diaz says.

Finnish wife
Diaz earned a masters in marine biology in his own country and continued to doctoral studies at Rhodes University in South Africa. He moved to Sweden to take up a researcher position and from there to Finland in 2011.

In his new country, Diaz got married and switched industries. He earned a BE in cloud computing and IoT from Metropolia in 2021. Currently, he is studying quantum technology at Aalto University.

“I like that my workplace is at a high academic level. The people I work with are critical thinkers and try to find the best solutions in the long term.”

In practice, creating cloud infrastructure for companies is coding. Diaz uses Python, Scala and Java. Of these languages, he considers the latter the most difficult, and the open source code community is not as helpful as with Python.

“Fortunately, we have a really helpful community at my work. I feel that I belong to the team, and everyone encourages me to develop—we don’t compete against each other.”

Rapid company growth
Silo AI is growing quickly and constantly hiring new people. New recruits enter a development program where they learn the necessary skills on the job. They are supported by a dedicated tutor program.

“I have been a workplace mentor a few times. It’s really nice, and you even get to have lunch with a new friend,” Diaz says.

The company currently employs around 240 specialists, half of whom hold doctoral degrees. The firm is part of an international network and early this year agreed on a partnership with an AI research center in Vancouver.

Diaz’s next step is to work with quantum computing. Quantum computers make machine learning significantly faster than at present.

“It demands an unusual way of thinking. You have to accept uncertainty in calculations. I want to be involved in the process where we come up with how quantum computers can help in machine learning.”

In his spare time, Diaz studies, but he has to relax sometimes, too. His hobbies are marathons and winter swimming.

“I swim in the sea in Munkkiniemi. I can’t use the shower on the shore to warm up because I haven’t been accepted as a member of the club yet. People have also shouted at me to get out of the ice hole when I’ve been in there too long and club members have been waiting their turn.”

Text and images: Janne Luotola