Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast maturing as a technology, and as a vital way research is conducted, products are made, how people communicate, and machines interface with — and behave more like — humans.
Today AI and other tech firms are looking for additional capital to fund a deeper dive into the world of business, customer relationships, consumer applications and advanced services to take the category to the next level.
Until recently, what’s been missing is a way for tech professionals from Silicon Valley to the North Bay to network together, meet potential investors, find opportunities to expand in the U.S. and offshore, while building companies based on inclusion and women in key roles. All this is changing with the creation of a new organization, Tech Bay Area Advocates, helping to bridge these gaps while assisting firms in realizing their potential.
“Our focus is on providing real-time information and education on tech issues (verticals) along with connections for tech entrepreneurs seeking funding, and investors looking to invest in them,” said Lannie Medina, founder for the Tech Bay Area Advocates. She is a Sonoma County resident and Stanford undergraduate with a background in development, marketing, finance and institutional investing at Stanford, Charles Schwab and American Express.
Another TBAA goal is to help build a tech cluster, or ecosystem, in the North Bay including local firms and those wishing to come here from Silicon Valley and elsewhere around the globe.
Earlier this month, about 150 startups, business leaders and students gathered at a SOMO Village Event Center in Rohnert Park for an AI summit as well as Blockchain – the system that underlies cyptocurrency.
Keynote Speaker: Jonathan Miranda
“Our goal is to inform our leaders and customers about the future of tech. AI is multiplying everything that came before it and accelerating the pace of change,” said Jonathan Miranda, director of strategy and technology with Salesforce of San Francisco.
“The primary goal of AI is to augment workers while offering enhancements so people can do their jobs better. It’s not about Westworld-style robots or human surrogates, such as those in SciFi movies, someday replacing humans.”
He said the average physician only spends 50% of his/her time with patients, while viewing computer screens the rest of the time. A goal of AI is to take away up to 80-90% of day-to-day repetitive tasks.
For example, Miranda said CLARA, from Clara Labs, is a virtual assistant that makes scheduling decisions using the details of each request, based on a person’s availability and preset preferences, along with information from natural email conversations.
Medical AI Potential
Miranda said, “If a machine can learn, or store, electronic memories of 5,000 cat pictures, and you show it a new cat photo, it should be able to recognize the pattern. That’s machine learning in a narrow sense. In a much broader context, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on an extensive brain-mapping project with potential AI applications for repairing brain trauma damage with prospects for re-establishing human neural control directly to prosthetic limbs, among other possibilities.
There is also a need to personalize drugs for the human body. AI can sort through a list of symptoms to see who needs immediate care and recommend an appropriate treatment, saving lives and time.
Funding for AI
Companies receiving funding: 2,151
Amount: $33 billion
First quarter 2018
Amount: $2.5 billion