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Element Data’s engineering team is building decision-making software. From left: Vish Vadlamani,
Stephen Lawler, Phani Vaddadi and Charles Davis. (Element Data Photo)

Element Data, a Seattle startup that uses machine learning to help people and organizations make big decisions, just closed a $1.7 million seed round led by investor Archibald Cox Jr.

Additional investors include former Amazon VP Stephen Lawler, Ad Lightning CEO Scott Moore (formerly of Cheezburger), and a handful of other angels.

Element Data will use the cash to grow its engineering team and build out its product — a platform that uses artificial intelligence to inform decisions like what school to choose or which candidate to hire. Element Data’s Decision Insights Computing Engine (DICE) considers the different options a user provides and analyzes the different criteria, biases, and conditions behind the various decisions a person could make.

Element Data CEO Geoff McDonald. (Element Data Photo)

“If you know how people make decisions, then you can determine how they will act and the factors that influence their behavior,” said Element Data CEO and co-founder Geoff McDonald. “If you know the attributes of people engaged in the decision process, you can analyze these individuals in aggregate to uncover trends in their decision processes and behaviors to predict future outcomes and/or influence them.”

Along with the funding, Element Data announced the acquisition of the technology and team of PV Cube, a Seattle machine learning startup led by two vets of Microsoft Cortana and Bing.

“We believe that the next iteration of A.I. and intelligent agents will need to go beyond contextually retrieving data or answering a question, to being able to truly help humans by becoming a partner in our decision process with machines, which at times is messy and inefficient,” McDonald said. “But the goal always is the same: to develop the confidence that a given decision or course of action is the most satisfactory alternative. To do that, those systems will need to be informed by the framework we are building and the data we are collecting.”

Element Data has five full-time employees and seven contractors working in Seattle.

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