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Artificial Intelligence or as people call it, AI has been on the rise in recent years. Everybody seems to be talking about it like it’s a big deal, well it kind of is. A report from Statista states that the global market for AI is set to grow from $3.2 billion in 2016 to $89 billion by 2025 – now that’s a lot. What does this mean for you as a Bahraini startup? Do startups really need to adopt AI? Keep reading to find out.

But first, here’s a  little background information for those of you that still don’t know what AI is, artificial intelligence is a branch of software engineering that emphasizes the making of intelligent machines. What’s meant by intelligent is the fact that these machines are able to work and react just like human beings. Ever watched Ex Machina? It’s a bit like that but not that extreme, yet.

Back to the real juice, let’s face it, AI can serve as a strong competitive advantage, but it does not come cheap at all. Even the simplest of simplest AI bots can cost you up to five figures (depends on your industry and what it is you’re trying to do), so anything more advanced than that is simply out of the picture. However, staying out of the loop can somewhat hurt a startup’s competitiveness against enterprises – remember Kodak? Then didn’t really keep up with the times now did they. What is there to do then? We wanted a second opinion and so asked one of Bahrain’s top AI experts Ameen Al Tajer of INFINITEWARE on his take of AI. Here is a list of thoughts to consider before jumping on the AI bandwagon:

  • AI is not just one separate entity. When it comes to AI there are several layers to it, such as natural language processing, robotics, machine learning or deep learning, there is so much more to it. Instead of wholeheartedly investing in AI, it’s much easier for a startup to build or work on these subsets of AI rather than investing flat out on AI.
  • Of course, there are benefits to AI. “Startups can benefit from AI in multiple ways, one of them utilize it to find insights in their data after they do a good job acquiring it, this is very subjective to the experience. For example, a hiring website can really benefit from an AI-driven approach in recommending the perfect hire, other businesses can use it to forecast their ROI in the next couple of months for the sake of instance, I personally find AI a very suitable medium that can be very valuable to startups if integrated well,” explains Ameen.
  • Know where you are, and where you want to go. For instance, are you a startup that wants to consume AI or one that wants to provide AI? There are definitely benefits to both. As a consumer, you might ask, how will I use it to my advantage; whereas a service provider might ask, what’s my market and who’s my target audience. These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed when looking into AI.
  • Competition. Let’s face there’s always competition out there, the question now is, how will your startup be able to compete? Well, this very much depends on the nature of your competitive ecosystem and the industry you’re in. There are some industries where AI could prove to be a competitive advantage for your business and others not so.
  • There may be consequences. We’re not saying that consequences are inevitable, but if AI isn’t executed right, you may face some issues. Here is what Ameen had to say, “What you feed your AI algorithms will deduce what sort of quality you get out of it. You have to be very careful in choosing the data that you make up your intelligence decision making machine, our biases and values can easily slip in into how judgments are made. A good example of this is again, the subject of hiring, we should be super neutral when training AI algorithms. Otherwise, your AI algorithm could easily choose candidates for the wrong reasons. They may be superb in putting some good results, and it’s almost always too difficult to understand the reasons behind its judgment, which is not acceptable for tasks that demand solid justifications, like legal matters and human aspects of our society.”
  • Replacing people is probably a bad idea. This strategy can get pretty risky, “some ethical implications are important to look at before introducing AI and automation in the workplace, you can easily ruin the atmosphere and have a toxic environment if this is enrolled wrongs,” says Ameen. We don’t think it’s a great idea too and on the bright side, AI is still in its early stages and hasn’t evolved completely to replace human workers yet. Congratulations, you get to live another day worry free and not thinking about whether or not those pesky AIs are going to taking over your job *queue sigh of relief*.

All in all, and believe it or not, we still aren’t at that stage where business and startups can fully adopt AI without thinking about the consequences. There is no doubt that AI has great potential in helping startups exceed and grow, and this is something that is hopefully going to increase with time. It’s also safe to say that startups can and may start looking at AI as a potent or tool in their operations with every day that goes by – let’s just hope the world doesn’t end up like the one in I, Robot.

If you’re thinking of giving AI a try sometime in the near future and need another opinion, remember this, come back and give it a quick read, you won’t regret it.