There’s a good likelihood that SpaceX will be the first startup in the world to achieve ‘Superunicorn’ status. The company that comes after that could very well be a relatively unknown company that’s all about AI. Venture capitalists are pouring millions and millions into startups developing generative AI applications and practically anything that has an element of AI. If you’re planning on founding a startup, then perhaps you should consider adding an element of AI somewhere in your product to make it easy to raise funds.
Since the beginning of time, there have always been disruptive innovations that have completely subsumed existing markets or created a new market all for themselves. It’s a little too early for us to tell what the next major market segment is going to be or how it will impact our lives. Just like how an AI model’s decision-making is often termed as a black box on account of how opaque and difficult to interpret they are, even the new application markets for AI are just as difficult to predict.
For now, we know for certain that generative AI is going to be a massive domain for AI applications. There are several startups trying to leverage OpenAI’s DALL-E and ChatGPT services to incorporate generative AI into their services. We now have popular creator tools such as Canva creating completely unique artwork for anyone who needs it. We’ve got Microsoft leveraging its investment in OpenAI by incorporating ChatGPT within their search results and even leveraging DALL-E for custom artwork generation. We have the major chip giants – NVIDIA, AMD and Intel – enabling AI applications through their hardware for gaming and content upscaling. There are even 3D models being generated on the fly in some prototype CAD applications. Image, text, audio, video – every mode of communication is now seeing the power of generative AI.
Generative AI is on the path to being just as foundational to life as smartphones and the internet. And there’s an arm’s race that’s about getting the next biggest AI application out there before everyone else.
Speaking of the arms race, militaries worldwide have been actively pursuing AI applications for quite some time now. The future soldier might not be using generative AI to make doodles on the battlefield but a couple of drones surveying the target site is enough for a generative AI to draw up a live field map and create an ingress and egress strategy that will allow the said soldier to complete their battle objectives with minimum collateral damage or casualties.
Take any of the conflict zones that we know of at the moment. Prolonged battles in a theatre of war will soon be a thing of the past when AI is let to run amok. Battles will be fought and won in weeks if not days. And just as easily, countries with enormous military budgets will have the means to completely decimate their opponents in battle.
And now would be the perfect time to plug in a Skynet reference but I’ll let that be. What’s actually interesting to see is that some of the companies that started out with the whole intention of making AI open and responsible have slowly pivoted towards being the exact opposite.
OpenAI started off as a non-profit company with the goal of creating AI that benefits humanity. In its founding statement, the startup had stated its intentions to develop AI to benefit humanity without being constrained by the need to generate financial returns. That all their researchers would be encouraged to share their papers, code and patents with the world. Now that generative AI has blown up and is clearly the next big business, those hallowed founding statements have turned hollow. OpenAI had openly shed its non-profit status back in 2019 but it continues to use the same language making it seem as if they’re still open to sharing its secrets with the world. It’s not the first company to pull a complete 180 degrees and it won’t be the last. The AI arms race has necessitated startups to switch to a “do whatever it takes” mode and that could have worrying results in the future. What are your thoughts on the same?