The world is buzzing about artificial intelligence, but there are many questions left unanswered, like: How will it affect me? What industries are most vulnerable? Are we ready? While no one can offer a crystal clear vision of all that the future holds, it has been our mission at BootstrapLabs to provide both a point of view and a toolkit for you to make the most of it. Here’s why investing in artificial intelligence is a great move to make right now.
The Data Is Here, Now We Need to Apply It
As with most technological revolutions, the wave of artificial intelligence is breaking on the heels of a promising body of research. Much is possible in theory, but those who take the leap and find working applications of the technology will determine how these innovations play out. That’s how we focus our investments – where can our “cognitive computers” make an impact and generate tangible value?
Over the last decade or so, adaptive and efficiency-driven software has swept up the global economy, reshaping entire industries and redefining the way we do just about everything. Early high-rollers like Google and Amazon created computer systems that leveraged vast amounts of data for consumer benefit and quickly became some of the most profitable and influential organizations in the world. The stage is set for a similar land-grab – and potential takeover – with artificial intelligence. Humans created more data in the last 18 months than in the entire history of the world, and we now have computers which can learn from this data more effectively than humans can. This means there is massive opportunity for investment and innovation, and it’s still early days.
AI Creates a Virtuous Cycle
One beautiful thing about machine learning and generative learning technology is that these systems learn adaptively, rather than following a limited set of rules. For Danny Lange, VP of AI and Machine Learning at Unity Technologies (and formerly Uber, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM), this means that his team can keep “gaining knowledge, then maximizing payout with current knowledge; but keep learning and exploring.” An initial investment in AI would not only help improve the way your business currently operates, but also enable you to innovate more rapidly and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. With a virtuous cycle in motion between your technology, your processes, and your business strategy, you can exponentially increase the value of your organization.
In every field, such a cycle will enable us to tackle bigger and better problem sets, leading to more engaged and productive employees and, eventually, new job creation. This is true because the advancements that applied artificial intelligence offer have as much, if not more, to do with effectiveness as they do with big software’s efficiency. This is like the Internet squared – augmenting not only our access to information, but also our ability to use the information in meaningful ways. For example, startups like Mendel Health have cropped up for this very purpose. Making better decisions, more consistently isn’t just a good business model for a healthcare company, it’s helping save lives every day.
The Future Is In Your Hands
Of course, AI computers won’t be able to do everything by themselves. Yes, they will be ultra-smart data wizards who can make complex decisions in the blink of an eye. But we’re not talking about sentient robots taking over the world. It is we, the humans, who are building systems to steadily enhance the quality of life on this planet. The technology is enabling us to ask better questions – and give better answers – about what we hope to accomplish in this next wave of industry.
At our second annual Applied AI Conference in May, we were humbled and inspired by the amazing group of leaders across many different disciplines taking this project to heart. Researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, journalists, and more are striving for the most desirable outcomes through open dialogue and belief in a better future. As Hema Raghavan, Head of Machine Learning for Growth at LinkedIn, shared during the Conference, “we can build out the curve where everyone adapts together.” The combined investment of human capital, venture capital, and technology is a large-scale collaboration to build the infrastructure of tomorrow.
To rehash the healthcare example, there are especially huge opportunities for improvement in places where our economics are currently misaligned. Disruptors like visual diagnostic startup Captureproof are already “saving patients 99.996% of their time,” according to Founder and CEO Meghan Conroy, and it’s only a matter of time before a watershed change occurs. From niche applications like Captureproof and Mendel to corporate giants like Amazon and Ford making platform plays, the race is on. If you’re still on the starting block waiting for a cue, let this be your starting gun.
Don’t Wait, Don’t Hesitate
Perhaps the most startling thing about the AI revolution is the pace with which it is moving. Predictions for when a computer would be able to beat a human at Go were shattered by 20 years. In Q1 of 2017 alone, $1.7 billion was spent in seed funding for AI startups. If you’re not thinking about how AI will change your business, someone else is. If you aren’t willing to experiment, you will be left in the dust. The beauty here is that once you get started, there is plenty of room to grow and adapt – that’s exactly what AI does.
We’re right at the cusp of when the behind-the-scenes R&D work is turning into investment, and this investment will soon give way to large-scale market adoption. We’re proud to be at the heart of this exciting industry, and as entrepreneurs ourselves, we are ready to take on the challenges that it brings – together.
Coding since 10 y/o. Founder, CEO, CTO. Advisor, Parallel Entrepreneur, Operator, Angel Investors.
Nicolai is the Founder of BootstrapLabs, a leading venture capital firm, based in Silicon Valley and focused on Applied Artificial Intelligence. Read more.