Artificial Intelligence seems to be everywhere nowadays. Whether you enjoy Netflix’s curated list of what to “watch next”, or you depend on your phone to lead you to a Starbucks that you will suit your preferences perfectly, it’s hard to deny that your life isn’t already intertwined with AI. For people who want to venture into their own startup, the decision about using AI is an important one. I recently went to an event led by Salesforce which focused on using AI to transform your business. There was a panel of four people who currently work in the field of AI, and they discussed how people can begin to incorporate AI into their own startups.
Using AI in your company can be really beneficial. An example would be being able to collect data from your company and see how your employees are performing. By utilizing AI, you are able to see if there are any patterns in the data. AI can also save time and money, which are two of the most important factors when starting a business. It can also be helpful to your consumers by helping them solve tasks in an easier, and more efficient way.
While AI can be an exciting addition to a company, it can also have its downsides.
Something that crosses my mind when I think about the evolving nature of AI is the trustworthiness of machine learning. Machine learning is a type of AI that involves self-learning without explicitly being told to do so by a human being. (summarized from definition from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/machine-learning) Machine learning is used for self driving cars, traffic predictions, and with voice recognition devices like Amazon Echo. It’s hard to wrap my head around trusting a machine that doesn’t involve human input to drive me anywhere.
Whether you use Siri, Alexa, or Google Home, you might have encountered a time when they didn’t quite understand what you said. One of the speakers of the panel (Matt Bencke) stated that with voice AI, the accuracy is about 92%. If you take that percentage and put that into self driving cars, it can get a little scary. We still have a long way to go before the population is willing to entrust a machine to drive them.
Although there are positives and negatives to using AI, many businesses still use it and will continue to use it. The big question is, how exactly does AI bring value to a company? More importantly, how do you pitch that to a potential investor? One of the panelists said, “Start with the problem, make the AI a part of how you do it, not why you do it” (Matt Bencke). The problem that your startup is trying to solve should be an important factor in whether or not you decide to use AI. By incorporating that into your story when you pitch your business, you can really get the point across in a meaningful way.
As we move forward with AI, it is important that we regularly check to make sure that everything is working properly. Without human supervision, AI could take a wrong turn. It’s also important to show consumers the safeguards that are being put in place since AI has the potential to make people a little hesitant to use certain products. It can be difficult to sell a product that uses machine learning to someone who isn’t very open to allowing a machine to perform their tasks for them. A memorable quote that was said at this event was, “If you’re using electricity, you’re using AI” (Kevin Croy). This is how prevalent AI is becoming. It’s about to become as common as turning on your kitchen lights.
Panelists in feature picture from left to right:
Taylor Soper – Moderator, Tech reporter for Geekwire
Matt Bencke – founder & ceo Mighty AI
Samir Manjure – co-founder & CEO – KenSci
Jia Chen – CEO of Talentful
Kevin Croy – partner 9Mile Labs