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Q&A With Daniel Pitchford of AI Business: The Challenge is to Make AI Scaleable

Q&A With Daniel Pitchford of AI Business: The Challenge is to Make AI Scaleable

Conversations around ethics in AI are becoming common now.


Vishal Mathur

When it comes to a discussion on Artificial Intelligence (AI), it can never really be a black and white opinion on whether something is good or bad. Such is the sheer customization capabilities that AI offers for pretty much any solution you may want to bolt this on to, that you can always have multiple approaches to any challenge you wish to tackle. At the London Tech Week 2019, News18 sat down for a conversation with Daniel Pitchford, the CEO and co-founder of AI Business, a company established in 2014 to speak about the opportunities that AI presents, the challenges that come with the application, the ethics debate and what commercial opportunities India presents. Incidentally, Pitchford is also the co-author of the book ‘AI Transforming Business’. Edited excerpts.

We would like to understand what are the challenges that come with the implementation of AI, particularly if you look at it from the standpoint of customization and localization for particular problems?

It's a good question. We asked this question a lot. What are your challenges, I was involved in a dinner last week, with 12 CTOs of big enterprises talking about how far as they are and what they're doing with it or do they even know about it. And it's a real mix, you've got some businesses that are much further ahead, they've adopted quite a strategic approach in terms of defining roles within the business that will hold accountability and be responsible for driving AI and bringing knowledge of AI. You've got some businesses that haven't really sat with a CIO or CTO or a bit of both, maybe. So there's a mix of different roles involved in that there is no one decision making, which in some cases is slowing the adoption rate down.

You've got some businesses who are jumping into adopting AI because they have a fear of simply being left behind. And they believe it's better to be in the race, even if they don't really know what they need to be doing. Which in one way you think actually helps increase the adoption rates, but actually can have the opposite effect when they've rushed into it. They haven't understood the metrics, the ROI that they're looking for the bit of money, and they haven't invested properly in the roles. It falls short, the investment dries up. They put it to one side and they forget about it. So that's one issue. The other side is people sitting on the sidelines, people who do the exact opposite. And you know, say I as a large scale bank, wait for my competitor, see how they're getting involved and how they are putting money, how is it working for them and maybe I'll wait and see if where I, you know, play my cards. So that's slowing things down. I think the big challenge is perception. The big fear that we see within businesses is change. Obviously, the human race we just naturally instinctively but when businesses are, it's more around, stop changing.

What is your take on markets such as India?

So we're doing some research at the moment, that offers a holistic global market view into Europe, the US, Asia Pacific, Asia Pacific as a whole has superseded Europe in terms of investment. Within Asia Pacific, now we're doing a more detailed report, because for us, obviously, there's many different models. So we'll be looking at how India, China, Japan, and that sort of Southeast Asia, you know, Singapore, Australia, all markets function. So this is something we're probably going to be releasing over the next few months in terms of more detailed analysis of that, it's been very much a 30,000 foot view now. But yeah, conversations that we had back in February, and we see there is a lot of growth, you know, equally for money being invested in to Asia Pacific as a region globally, the top five VC funds in terms of the discipline and revenue that they're putting into AI technology. But actually, when you look at the split of the deals done, almost half of them are of Asia Pacific, so there is a huge flow of capital to the region. And then within that India, obviously is now becoming a market as well.

How big is the opportunity?

But if we look back to three years, when we first started producing reports, and analysts were releasing reports and the potential opportunity with AI, they were forecasting by 2025, the enterprise investment and I'm just going to be around 30. So a big number, right? This is back in 2016. Every year, and probably every half year, you're going to new upcoming, we're now looking at that thing of being 120 billion by 2025. So it's just the scale and the exponential growth and the investment being put in is only going to continue. That's a global perspective, when you look at the UK, you know, there's a lot being done. Base level innovation from universities, back technology and knowledge transfer and IP, to the enterprises, to the corporates, the tech providers that are launching it. So I see providing a really good environment to foster innovation. So for startups, you know, are very diverse, is that there are new businesses that are launching, you can see the opportunity. What I learned when I was there is more about the domestic opportunity within India. So we have seen a lot of businesses come over many, you know, Indian tech businesses that are part of the events, but from India to a global market was that there was a huge opportunity global to an Indian market, and then even just the domestic market. And that's a interesting piece that I learned a lot about during my visit to Mumbai and Bangalore, just that the opportunity with domestic, which is really exciting. So there's a big opportunity.

There is significant debate around the business of AI and where ethics stand in the larger scheme of things. What is your take on the ethics issue?

It's a popular debate. We obviously have conversations around ethics here. I think a lot of the conversations that we hear about is around designing the designing AI and not designing AI, and how do you put that and how do you work away from that. It is a concern that many people have I think is you know something that businesses are looking to not just take a stand on a defined strategy around. What we look at is having to make your AI scaleable. Obviously, we have a whole stage here at the AI Summit around responsible AI. So we're looking at how to you as a technology provider and enterprise, not only develop the AI responsibly but implement it responsibly. So this is the sort of conversation that is obviously becoming more and more front of mind for businesses as they get further into the new doctrine itself.

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