Future proofing your startup for the AI revolution

Will your startup survive the AI revolution? We spoke to Greg Cross from Soul Machines to lean how to stay prepared.
4 minute read
Edward Kost @EdwardKost
Technical Co-pilot
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The Artificial Intelligence industry is booming and you don't have to venture far to encounter it. In fact, simply saying "hey Siri" to your iPhone  converts your voice into a probability distribution plot using Deep Neural Networks to generate a confidence score to determine the likelihood of the assistance being summoned.

And all this just to decide whether or not the phone should respond with: 

"Yes?" 

We had the privilege of sitting down with Greg Cross to discuss all things A.I. Greg is the co-founder of Soul Machines , a company bridging the gap between human and machine interaction with "digital human" communication agents.

You can't have a conversation about technical innovation that isn't sprinkled with A.I references, and it seems like only in the last few years this term has become less of a trendy buzzword and more of a reality. 

Greg say A.I is expected to aggressively take over the tech space, so if you're a tech startup, A.I is an innovation you can't afford to ignore.

"Any company that's operating in the tech space is going to have to use Artificial Intelligence," Greg says. "You're not going to be able to avoid it."

But the permeation of A.I won't be limited to just the tech space. Within the next five years, just about every industry is expected to adopt some form of Artificial Intelligence technology. 

ai adoption by industry

Source: tractica.com

So if you've been avoiding investigating this technology, now is the ideal time to confront it. Greg suggests we're just entering the cusp of a major A.I revolution. 

"AI is incredibly pervasive in our lives now but we're still at a very early stage." he says.

If you incorporate AI into your startup now, you're at an incredible advantage because, according to Greg, it's the A.I. driven business that will dominate the future market.

"[AI] is going to change the whole landscape," Greg says. "The big companies today aren't going to be the big companies in 10 years' time"

Who knows? Perhaps one of your biggest and most formidable competitors will eventually be crushed between the tectonic plates of the changing landscape and give way to you.  

Banking is a prime example of an industry at risk of failure in the A.I revolution. Greg says the fundamental flaw of this industry is its failure to adapt to future customer requirements.

"Think about the banking industry," Greg says. "There's the retail banks and the digital banks. Yes they have different cost structure, but are they really solving the problem of what is the future of the customer experience and banking going to look like? I don't think so."

But it isn't just ancient industries like banking that are at risk. According to Greg, tech startups are also at risk of innovation failure.

"We assume that, because we are the tech guys, we're invisible. But I think we are entering into an era where our industry is going to be transformed as well. We need to think really hard about how this technology is going to disrupt our own industry," Greg says.

According to Greg, startups can future proof themselves by always thinking of their future customers and how they can best accommodate them. Of course, no one knows the future, but by following tech trend channels, you can at least form a prediction.

So how can your startup start incorporating  A.I solutions? Greg suggests you narrow down your value proposition to identify areas of A.I integration.  

"What we are doing is heavily focused on, 'How do we create a personalized customer experience? How do we deliver that incredibly specialized knowledge to people in a way we hadn't been able to ever do before?"

As Greg mentioned, A.I is already pervasive in our lives so you shouldn't have difficulty finding an A.I solution that can benefit your startup. 

"Already things like data analytics platforms and data analysis are being driven by some form of artificial intelligence," Greg says.

And this list of A.I options is expected to keep growing exponentially. So, if you can't quite find A.I tech that's perfect for your startup needs, it's only a matter of time before you do:

Revenues from the artificial intelligence (AI) software market worldwide from 2018 to 2025 (in billion U.S. dollars)

ai software market trends

Source: statista.com

Another important aspect to consider is how startup members should cultivate their skills to remain relevant in the future. Greg suggests that it may not necessarily be programming skills that determine a startup's potential. 

"What are going to be the core skills and capabilities needed to have a successful and valuable startup in that AI era? It may not be about the people creating the best code. It may be in the application areas, in the intermediation areas. It's these enormous value shifts that create these opportunities."

But A.I isn't without its risks, and it's the fear of these risks that prevents many startups from leveraging much of the technology. But fear of the unknown shouldn't prevent you from facing it. According to Greg, we can only fully embrace this innovative technology if we are willing to challenge our fears through the ancient art of communication.

"There are, without a doubt, scary aspects to AI," Greg says. "What I often say to people is AI and machines are going to become a pervasive part of our communities and our societies, so if you're afraid of it or your concerned about it, you have to be prepared to enter that dialogue and enter that debate."

 

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