Andy Hickl is probably the most popular guy at any party that includes software engineers. Because he's the guy who helps Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen decide where to spend his tech money.

Seattle firm Vulcan, Inc. handles Allen's gigantic portfolio of business and philanthropic interests—a collection of companies and organizations that span the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks, $2 billion of real estate, several museums, charities and foundations around the world and groundbreaking technology and science research.

A senior director at Vulcan, Hickl is responsible for technology scouting and product development at the Vulcan Proving Ground. The Proving Ground is one of Vulcan's most forward thinking initiatives, taking startups that work with early stage technologies and using Vulcan's resources to bring high concept ideas to reality.

Hickl's portfolio includes projects working with natural language processing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, augmented reality, autonomous systems (including drones) and global health. He's bringing his insights from working with some of the most cutting edge technology available to the TechFestNW 2016 main stage with his talk: Saving our species—How AI can, and already is, helping.

Hickl has been involved with Vulcan since 2013, where he worked as a technical advisor to Allen, building a technology investment strategy that met his philanthropic and investment goals and working with organizations including the Trail Blazers on tech project. His biggest achievement? Coordinating Vulcan's $100 million response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Africa. Hickl worked on the ground in Ghana to solve logistics and communications problems, distributing thousands of cell phones to front line workers to let them issue regular reports.

Prior to his time at Vulcan, Hickl co-founded A.R.O. Inc.,: one of the first software companies to provide contextual intelligence from sensor data. He was the CEO of Language Computer Corporation, a company that specialized in building natural language processing solutions for operational customers, building systems in question-answering, information extraction, textual inference, and multi-document summarization.

Join Andy Hickl and our other excellent speakers at TechFestNW 2016: April 25-26 at The Armory in Portland, Oregon's Pearl District. For more information or tickets to TFNW, visit techfestnw.com.