Socratic Arts mourns the loss of Ray Bariess, Ph.D.

Ray Bariess

Brilliant. Happy. Kind. Devoted. Foodie. 49ers fan. UT Longhorns fan. Patient mentor. Family man.

These are all words we use to describe Ray Bareiss. Ray was our Executive Vice President and Principal AI Scientist. He had a career in artificial intelligence and education technology that spanned nearly four decades.

Ray found success in both academic and corporate settings. His career began at the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1988. He initially focused on machine learning but was dissatisfied with the limitations of the technology of that era. So he shifted his focus to the study of expert knowledge and automated knowledge acquisition systems that interacted with human experts to solve complex problems.

Ray was the Director of the Institute for the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University, where he researched and developed performance support and eLearning Solutions grounded in cognitive science research. Ray then went to work at Cognitive Arts in 1998 as the Executive VP, where he developed eLearning solutions for major corporations and contributed to the emergence of online universities. Ray was a founding faculty member of Carnegie Mellon University's Silicon Valley campus, where he collaborated on the development of unique project-based, learn-by-doing graduate programs.

In 2012, Ray joined Socratic Arts and its sister company, Experiential Teaching Online, to focus on developing learn-by-doing professional education in technical fields, including cybersecurity, data analytics, software development, and eCommerce technology. At the time of his passing, Ray was intensely focused on experimenting with GenAI, and incorporating the best of his research into the company's processes and the learning experiences GenAI could be made to design.

He was also actively pursuing a model of instruction that would artfully strike a balance between a purely Socratic approach, which can be frustrating for learners, and finding appropriate "times for telling." In this vein, Ray was working on developing what he coined, a "semi-Socratic tutor" driven by Generative AI. This approach pushes learners to think and grapple, but supports them with information when they are ready. Ray was incredibly passionate about learning and technology, and how to use tech to make learning more engaging and effective for clients and students.

While his professional accomplishments are vast and remarkable, it's his spirit we will miss most. Ray's deep happiness was rooted in his family, and we felt lucky to be a part of his extended family. To us, he was not just a colleague. Ray was an expert mentor, a friend, a role model, 'the best boss ever,' and, to some, even a father figure.

Ray's enthusiasm was infectious, and he turned work into a fun adventure. He showed up in the world with curiosity, joy, devotion, patience, and kindness, and those around him learned to do the same. He made going to work a fun and exciting experience for all who collaborated with him because he was always excited about what was possible and what we could accomplish next.

He was fair, respectful, generous, and extremely patient and accommodating. And he was always smiling - even when his Zoom camera was off. He effortlessly focused on finding ways to get everybody to work best together in order to achieve our goals with minimal conflict. He went to bat for people and did right by everybody involved whenever needed. He was loyal, gentle, and humble.

Ray was a storehouse of institutional knowledge about early computer science, and he had a knack for taking complex ideas and being able to break them down into easily digestible chunks anybody could understand - often with a story or anecdote (or dad joke) to illustrate.

If a colleague came to Ray with an idea, his response was always, "I'm always interested in your ideas. So what is it?" That level of openness and encouragement helped set and keep a tone of non-hierarchical collaboration and respect at Socratic Arts. He valued his colleagues and his students, and his actions reflected that every day.

And Ray was an amazing storyteller. He was constantly telling stories about everything from the good ol' days of early AI to his latest excursions (and great food-experiences) with his family. He literally glowed when telling stories about his family. He loved sharing stories about food, autocross, travel, and his beloved BMW.

Ray Bareiss was admired, inspired, and cherished by all who knew him.

In addition to his Socratic Arts family, Ray is survived by his loving wife, Audrey, daughter, Rachel, and son-in-law Ryo.

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