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February 19, 2024 | Tom Ballard

New Knoxville start-up providing “visibility into the AI blackbox”

Authentrics.AI is the newest venture from a serial entrepreneur who moved to East Tennessee a few years ago.

When you look at John Derrick’s LinkedIn profile, the term Advisor appears at least nine times.

That’s the primary role the Maryville resident has played since he and his wife relocated to East Tennessee several years ago. Before the move, they lived in two of the nation’s best-known entrepreneurial ecosystems – Austin, TX, and the Bay Area of California. Derrick also led three company exits as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He’s also been heavily involved with the “Innovation Crossroads” program operated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Now, he is back in the start-up game with his newest venture named Authentrics.AI and, as its name implies, it is all about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) but perhaps not what you might be thinking. Authentrics.AI’s name speaks to the need for authenticity and metrics in AI.

John Derrick

“Authentrics.AI offers organizations the ability to see inside their artificial intelligence systems and measure its operation in a way that no other solution can provide,” says Derrick, who founded the company and serves as its CEO. “It’s like an MRI for your AI. We now can measure the impact of content on your AI, control the use of that content, and when necessary, remove problematic content. This is vitally important for widespread responsible use of AI and the content it uses.”

So, what does Authentrics.AI actually do?

Derrick explains that a company’s neural networks are constantly changing but companies are not paying enough attention as to what these AI systems are learning and how they are learning. This can lead to detrimental issues in terms of data integrity and decision-making.

“If you’re not sure, then you could be experiencing degradation,” he says.

Authentrics.AI can analyze a dataset and tell the user exactly what has changed as content and operation have impacted the AI, providing what Derrick characterizes as “visibility into the black box.”

With the tool, users can monitor and measure content performance in their AI systems including: (1) saving operational costs by evaluating source content faster; (2) quantitatively measuring the contribution of ingested content on the AI; (3) providing quantitative measurement of the contribution of the content sets to generated. They can also set thresholds to detect and alert the AI operators when unexpected changes occur within their AI systems.

The result is optimized operation of AI systems and control of content effects, which Derrick says he learned in his decades of experience working with data scientists.

“AI is only as smart as the content and operation,” he says.

Last year was about operating in stealth mode as Derrick filed a provisional patent and developed the underlying technology. Today, he’s in active discussions with large first customers and is planning to raise a seed round within a quarter.

Authentrics.AI is also actively recruiting talent, particularly developers and customer-facing positions. To learn about opportunities, email

“Knoxville is not only a great place to live, it’s a great place for innovative technology companies. I’m looking forward to our community’s future here,” he says.

If things go as planned, Derrick hopes the start-up will have 20 full-time staff by the end of 2024.

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