With the pandemic easing in the United States and Canada, I’ve been traveling more in the last two weeks. I spoke at TED 2022 in Vancouver and ScaleUp:AI in New York and attended a manufacturing conference in California.
What a pleasure it was to see people in 3D! In the days before Covid, serendipitous conversations were a large part of how I kept up with what’s happening in the world. I’ve really missed these meetings.
It was great to hear former world chess champion and Russian dissident Garry Kasparov speak and to chat with him afterward about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (I largely agree with his views.) I enjoyed conversing with astronaut Chris Hadfield about property rights on the moon, MIT professor Ariel Ekblaw about living in space, and neuroscientist Frances Chance about when we might develop a theory of how the mind works. I saw AI artist Sophia Crespo present her generated creatures and heard venture capitalists George Mathew and Lonne Jaffe talk about investing in AI startups.
I found these conversations tremendously stimulating, and I came away thinking about some observations with respect to AI.
- To the general public, AI is still mysterious and inaccessible. Many people think that AI means AGI (artificial general intelligence), which remains far away. They don’t understand how deeply AI is already embedded in society. People would be better off if they made personal and business decisions — Should I study radiology? Should I cultivate my company’s ability to produce data? — based on realistic expectations for the future. So let’s get out there and keep helping people to shape a realistic perspective.
- Much of the infrastructure for building and deploying AI systems, such as MLOps tools, remains to be built. Despite the valiant efforts of many startups and cloud companies, it will be many years before the ecosystem of software infrastructure settles. Infrastructure for data manipulation and storage, and for data-centric approaches in particular, will play a large role.
- The community of artists who are using AI to create images or music is small but growing quickly. Some are getting by selling NFTs of their work. I’m pleased that artists can make money this way, though I’m nervous about how scalable this revenue stream will be. I hope that individuals with means will continue to support the arts regardless of the resale value of NFTs.
- Many people in the space industry are excited to take advantage of AI. There are myriad unsolved problems in, say, getting humans to Mars and back, from generating thrust to ensuring a soft landing. These are great opportunities for the AI community.
Going to these in-person events has me looking forward to a time, hopefully soon, when DeepLearning.AI and our ambassadors can hold more in-person events safely. I realize that the pandemic still varies widely in different regions. I hope you’ll enjoy reconnecting in person when it’s safe for you to do so, and benefit from the joyful conversations that contribute so much to learning.