The Democratisation of Artificial Intelligence
Whenever the ‘new normal’ arrives – whatever shape it takes – it is clear that we will be emerging into a somewhat different world. While epidemiology and immunology have quite rightly been the most prominent scientific fields for focus and investment, there have been rapid, notable shifts in our technological landscape thanks to the sudden ubiquity of remote working and collaboration tech.
And in the background, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been evolving to become a mainstream, background component in many products and services. As an investor in early stage AI opportunities, I would like to share my perspectives on the current opportunity that AI represents.
To give an idea of scale; since the start of the pandemic over 330 privately owned UK companies, that use AI for their core business, have secured more than £3.5bn in funding to fuel growth. This does not include the investments made by global corporations in their own businesses, and those made by the dominant technology players, that will dwarf this figure.
Just as with other Internet-enabled services, AI helps you at work, in your leisure pursuits and your daily lives. I believe that it is by embracing AI that you can improve your quality of life over this coming decade – this is the first of two articles that outline why and how.
This piece will discuss the drivers for change and some basic principles; the second article, which will be published towards the end of February, will discuss use cases for Artificial Intelligence and provide examples of how you can use it.
The Drivers of Change
I worry that the real economic consequences of the pandemic will only be felt by individuals when Government support measures are withdrawn. The utter demise of the high street is one of the more fundamental changes to established patterns in society, and has accelerated to the point where some of our most revered retail brands are being bought by online retailers, who will retain the brand and customer base, but few if any actual shops.
Remote working is commonplace and – whisper it – is actually preferred by many workers, especially if they can avoid the costs and hassles of a long commute. Onerous processes that organisations would normally have been unwilling or reluctant to change have been adapted within weeks. Virtual consultations with GPs and essential legal processes migrated online, even social and lifestyle experiences, such as wine tasting and personal training, use online streaming video as a matter of routine.
On the flipside, more time online has downsides. Aside from the fact that sedentary lifestyles create health issues, more people have come under the malign influence of fake news and conspiracy theories. People are anxious and susceptible as they don’t know what the future holds for them.
AI cannot solve all of these problems, but it provides an opportunity for you to emerge from the more isolated existence everyone has endured for the last 12 months. I would like to highlight some important factors that will help you embrace AI:
The first thing to do is actually quite simple: be aware of the changes in society and develop the mindset that it is possible to thrive in this new environment. You actually do not need to be technically savvy to use AI.
Secondly, if you can use basic computer applications and apps on your mobile phone, then you can use AI tools to:
– reduce time spent on the repetitive and routine via AI assistants
– analyse and visualise complex datasets and information so you can make better decisions
– assist in your day-to-day work and daily life via AI coaching
– start a side hustle, go in pursuit of your hobbies
There are three things I would like you to think about before you get started:
1. Identify a problem that you want to solve, and be able to express the benefits of solving it
2. AI lacks some of the skills that humans have, such as critical thinking, abstract thinking, and true creativity and empathy. You possess all of these skills, so how could you use them to address the problem you would solve if you had more information or time?
3. AI is most valuable when it is fed high-quality data related to, or adjacent to the problem you are trying to solve. What would you need to do to get this information? With AI, it could be in the form of videos, social media posts, emails or pictures, not just numbers in a spreadsheet.
I hope that I have given you some food for thought. If you wish to discuss anything in this article or would like my advice about the implementation of AI in your organisation, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org