“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Simon Sinek.

Welcome to Eliiza and thanks for taking the time to read our blog. In this first post, we would like to share the ‘why’ behind Eliiza.

Our mission at Eliiza is to ensure a bright future for Australian businesses and society in a world increasingly influenced by AI. While AI technologies have been around for many years the past five years in particular has seen rapid progress in the field of deep neural networks driven by increased investment, access to significantly larger data sets, inexpensive parallel computing capacity and improvements in algorithms.  These deep neural networks power the AI applications we see today such as image & facial recognition, chat bots and digital assistants, and autonomous vehicles. We believe that the pace of innovation will accelerate over the coming years leading to a proliferation of new services and capabilities that will have a profound effect on the way we do business and the way we live our lives.

For example, we believe voice interfaces will be more revolutionary than touch. Consider the number of people who struggle to join the digital economy due to accessibility or language issues. Voice interfaces will break down these barriers and enable us to converse with customers, friends and companies we do business with in a far more personal and natural way. As we all know from using Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant the technology still has a long way to go. But as Ray Kurzweil illustrates in The Singularity is Near, technologies experience exponential growth cycles, not linear. The technology will get better, cheaper, more efficient and more accessible very quickly. This is even more pronounced in the field of AI where the big tech firms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba and Baidu have been investing at unprecedented levels as they seek to extract value from the data generated through their platforms. This investment will drive continued, exponential technology growth.

A good example is the progress image recognition algorithms have made, and will likely make in the near future. As the chart below highlights in just 6 years image recognition algorithms have surpassed human performance. However the pace of change continues to accelerate. Earlier this month we heard noise of further breakthroughs in this space achieved by Geoffrey Hinton and the team at Google.

When you start to consider other industry AI use cases you see potential solutions to significant commercial and societal problems such as patient diagnosis, fraud detection, smarter government services and more.

As exciting as these examples are any conversation around AI tends to focus on broader social and community concerns. Take autonomous vehicles for example, as the technology matures at an exponential rate what happens to the truck drivers, cab drivers, delivery drivers and bus drivers of the world? More broadly will AI consolidate further market power in the hands of platform monopolies? Are our kids learning the right skills at school to prepare for a future where machines are performing more of the jobs we do today? If humans create AI how do we avoid codifying the biases of humanity in our creations? As facial recognition becomes more main-stream what does it mean for privacy?

As a team we believe these two dimensions of using AI to deliver commercial value and carefully considering the broader social impacts are inseparable. In many ways technology and jobs disruption is nothing new. However, as the pace of change increases and AI technologies mature we are heading towards what Klaus Schwab, founder of the world economic forum, termed the fourth industrial revolution. At Eliiza we want everyone in Australia to benefit from the fourth industrial revolution, but we recognise this is far more than just a technology problem to solve.

These themes of helping Australian businesses embrace fourth industrial revolution technologies, and taking a leadership position on the associated challenges such as jobs, education, privacy and bias are what inspired us to establish Eliiza and we believe will inspire others to join our team.

Our goal for this blog is to share insights and perspectives across all aspects of AI such our experiences building technical solutions, our perspective on the tools and capabilities available, how to get started on an AI project as well as a global perspective on topics such as jobs, education, privacy and bias. We hope that this content will be relevant to technical and non-technical people.

Thanks for your time and we hope you enjoy our blog.