The Future Is Here: A Walk-Through Of The Artificial Intelligence Startup Scene

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Artificial Intelligence is seen as either the buzzword of 2017 or the key to humanity's future. On this walk-through we'll tell you what to expect from AI:

The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) was not coined yet and hardly anyone could follow what World famous scientist Alan Turing was talking about when he proposed a test which is now known as the “Turing Test” to answer the question “Can machines think?”.

When John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” around 1950, it was a dream to have machines that could actually think. Though we’re not quite there yet, we are making rapid strides in the area of artificial intelligence and it is slowly making its presence felt in our lives. Let me illustrate where we will be heading in the coming 5 to 7 years.

The Future Is Here

Imagine your present “you” in a self-driving car 5 years from now. Suddenly, you hear a beautiful voice greeting you “good morning” and asking for your permission to order a pair of new brogues that are trending. You get excited and say “Yes, go for it!” and carry on with reading your newspaper on your virtual screen. Little do you know that it is actually your personal assistant from your smart device that greeted you. In the meantime, you get bored and ask your virtual assistant to play some music. It starts to play the latest chartbuster that has set you for the day. Meanwhile, you realize that you forgot to switch off the hotplate in the kitchen when you made porridge for breakfast earlier this morning. But again, you are back to your music mode instead of panicking at the thought of forgetting to switch off the hotplate – the AI installed in your kitchen will take care of it. While you are busy at work, your smartwatch alerts you about someone standing in front of the entrance of your house. You check it and brush off the warning as you see that it is actually the delivery man who has come to deliver your favorite brogues at your doorstep. Now, you receive an alert from your smart device asking you to confirm whether you made a transaction today at 8:30 AM in the morning. You confirm it by saying ”Yeah, it’s me!” – the matter is closed! After unpacking your favorite brogues you find a damage and ask your virtual assistant to contact the company from which you ordered the brogues. The online customer executive responds instantly and reassures you with a replacement.

What is the probability that the story that you just read is actually written by a computer that powered by AI? Pretty low currently but it is possible in the coming 5 to 10 years. Many of us are not even aware of the fact that we are already using AI. The simple examples in our day-to-day life are “Siri” on your iPhone or the video games that you play on your PlayStation. But a day will come when machines can actually pass the “Turing test” and behave like real humans.

“Artificial Intelligence” is the buzzword that has caused a schism amongst people around the world. It is looked at with a sense of optimism, wonder, hatred, and suspicion. Realizing a humanoid that can act and think like a human in terms of intelligence may be a distant dream but the pace of research and development has been less talked about and so are the startups that are getting ready to capture the market of AI while adding value in our everyday life through their innovation.

Companies Leading AI Research

How much of research is going on in this area? Well, a lot I should say. Right from Google to Tesla and from Banks to Defence establishments everyone’s eyes are on Artificial Intelligence. Google’s offshoot company waymo has invested a lot in AI research that will make roads safer, free up people’s time and improve mobility for everyone. While Tesla has rolled out its second-generation Autopilot system taking yet another step towards realizing fully autonomous vehicles and Elon Musk has announced Tesla’s autonomous car will drive coast-to-coast by 2018. GM (General Motors) acquired Cruise and partnered with Lyft. Ford acquired Chariot and SAIPS (a machine learning startup from Israel). Interestingly, a major player in the “on-demand” transport sector, Uber, has made moves in this area by acquiring the AI based companies Otto and Geometric. Though Tesla and Google don’t qualify to be startups anymore there are other players in this area who are competing and complementing this segment. While big names in the automobile industry are making strategic moves and driving innovation in this unchartered territory because of their access to resources. Nevertheless, startups are not lagging behind challenging the big players in this domain.

Startups Focused On Autonomous Vehicles

Here is a list of startups that you should watch if you are interested in the autonomous cars segment which has an AI component in it.

  • zoox is a robotics company pioneering autonomous mobility-as-a-service (MaaS). zoox is rumored to be developing a fully automated, electric vehicle fleet and the supporting ecosystem required to bring the service to market at scale.
  • is a startup based in Silicon Valley, creating AI software for autonomous vehicles using deep learning which is part of the broader family of Artificial Intelligence taking the autonomous vehicles segment to next level.
  • Nuro hopes to launch a fully self-driving car in the next two to four years.
  • Nutonomy, based in Singapore and Massachusetts, have already partnered with Jaguar and is also testing its vehicles in Michigan and in the U.K. claiming that they are building a “self-driving vehicle for public roads faster and cheaper than anyone in history”.

Startups Based On Different Application Areas Of AI

The applications of AI are not just confined to autonomous vehicles, the list is so extensive that you may have overlooked and will be surprised to realize that you are already using a hybrid version of AI without your knowledge. The story at the outset of this article is meant to give you a glimpse at the myriad of things that AI is capable of. From virtual personal assistants to smart home appliances, security devices, help desk, content generators, translators all of them can be complemented by artificial intelligence.

The next big disruption through AI is going take place in the area of virtual personal assistants. Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Alexa, and Facebook’s M are the renowned names in this segment. Besides, there are a number of startups that are working in virtual assistant space taking it to next level., Babylon Health, Ozlo, Maluuba, GoButler, DigitalGenius, Your.MD and are some honorable mentions in this segment.

One of the key applications areas that is expected to experience significant disruption through AI is marketing and purchase prediction. Lesser known to us, Predictive Analytics for marketing are a hot trend now, and many startups take advantage of this hype. Here are some startups that are powered by AI, having quietly made their foray into this domain and are winning the market: Statsbot, Persado, Cortex, insidesales, Aviso, Wisesupport, TellApart.

Fighting fraud in online transactions is one of the huge challenges that are faced by financial institutions and e-commerce platforms alike. However it possible to bring down the fraudulent transactions through machine learning. Fraugster, Ravelin, Simility, Shift Technology, Socure, Sift Science are exactly doing that.

AI could also take the role of the security officer. Gone are those days where a group of security guards monitors multiple CCTV screens to ensure security. If the security systems with AI are trained to make out the difference between flashes of color, that may indicate an intruder or someone loitering around a protected area, it could literally change the way security is enforced by eliminating any manual monitoring.

Lately, we have been witnessing an increase in the use of smart devices. Smart devices equipped with AI can learn your behavior patterns and helps you save money by adjusting the settings by helping you save money and energy.

Last but not least music and movie recommendation services by apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Netflix employ machine learning algorithms to which they feed your recommended music and movies based on the interests and selections you’ve made in the past.

The list is far from complete. The applications of Artificial Intelligence are many and so are the startups mushrooming and making it big in this domain. If you are enamoured by AI, you see wonderful opportunities in this area but if you are detesting AI because it could become superior to human intelligence don’t forget Alan Kay’s saying “Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower”.



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