Gaurav Tewari, founder and Managing Partner of Omega Venture Partners.
Over the last few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has worked its way into every area of our lives. If you’re a programmer, chances are you’ve started working with GitHub’s Copilot, an AI tool that turns natural language prompts into coding suggestions to expedite programming. If you’re a writer, you might have come across OpenAI’s GPT-3 or similar autoregressive language models that use deep learning to create human-like text. It was just a few years ago such AI programs were in their infancy. Now they are becoming ubiquitous tools in writing and coding.
As the founder of a technology investment firm, I’ve seen firsthand just how much AI has advanced in such a short period of time. The underlying building blocks of the technology are getting astonishingly better at an exponential rate, far outpacing our expectations. Techniques like deep learning allow us to run complex AI models to solve the most difficult problems. But while those who work in technology-centric careers are aware of AI’s explosive capabilities, the public at large is still largely unaware of the depth of AI’s potential.
The Growth Of AI
Many of us have spent a few hours playing around with DALL-E 2, the AI text-to-image generator that can create detailed images out of the most bizarre requests (think Obi-Wan Kenobi eating a hot fudge sundae). But how many of us realize the level of technology that goes into the creation of one of those images? This app doesn’t create images out of existing internet images but rather uses a complicated process called diffusion to refine a series of pixels until the visual rendering matches the text description. Not only is DALL-E 2 exponentially more powerful than its predecessor released the year before, but it has the potential to revolutionize the world of digital art.
Think about it—if you are a digital artist, illustrator or graphic designer, how much would your career change if you could use an app to create a realistic-looking image within seconds? These technologies tie to real-world applications with serious implications.
The sheer velocity and magnitude of AI innovation have also led to impacts in fields such as commerce or digital healthcare. The development of AlphaFold, an AI system that descended from AlphaGo, was originally a deep learning model trained to beat human beings at the board game Go. When AlphaGo was released five years ago, few predicted that this deep learning model would one day lead to a revolutionary discovery in molecular biology.
AlphaFold uses a deep neural network to predict the 3-D structures of proteins. The AI is a great advance in what scientists call the “protein-folding problem” and ended up predicting the structure of more than 200 million proteins, which is almost all that are currently known to exist. AlphaFold’s capabilities have opened the floodgates for medical researchers to develop countless drugs and vaccines to help humankind.
A Competitive Advantage
As AI continues to develop at an exponential rate, it is transforming the business world. Leveraging AI technologies can be a source of durable competitive advantage for businesses. Consider which repetitive tasks you might be able to automate using AI or how you can use AI to amplify your workers’ capabilities. Enterprise functions such as marketing, sales, finance and HR are all areas that can utilize new AI-enabled applications; these applications include providing customers with 24/7 financial guidance, predicting and assessing loan risks and collecting and analyzing client data.
In my view, we’re reaching escape velocity when it comes to AI. Who knows what will be possible a few years from now? As AI innovations become relevant to nearly every economic sector and industry, I believe that companies that don’t adopt AI are going to be severely disadvantaged.
Newer companies hold a distinct advantage in this area. Whereas existing businesses have to replace old technology, up-and-coming entrepreneurs can more naturally invest in the latest technologies right from the start. I recommend executives keep up with evolving AI technological trends in order to avoid the risk of being leapfrogged by newer entrants.
AI is the single biggest paradigm shift we’ve ever seen, and it’s evolving much faster than prior shifts. Advancements such as the cloud, mobile and the internet all changed the game, but none of them have evolved quite as rapidly as AI. As artificial intelligence continues to grow, it will soon dwarf the impact of these prior technology enablers, even as it builds upon and expands the applicability and impact of those technologies.
Our success depends on taking advantage of what AI has to offer. In spite of what some may believe, I see how AI is set to change our world. Rather than fretting about a dystopian future, we can see AI for what it really is—a potent amplifier of human potential. Our only task is to make the most of it.