Amir Husain, Founder and CEO of SparkCognition

Technology is the instrument that can lead to a brighter future, according to Amir Husain, founder, and CEO of Austin-based SparkCognition.

SparkCognition is doing significant projects with partners all over the world to build and deploy technology to shape the future, Husain said. But the biggest question he gets asked from companies is what is artificial intelligence and how can they use it, he said.

“AI is like mathematics, it’s like physics, it’s not a product – it’s a way of thinking,” Husain said.  

Husain gave the closing remarks at the end of the two-day AI and future tech summit, Time Machine, an annual conference put on by SparkCognition, at the Palmer Events Center in Austin.

Machine learning, which is a branch of AI, is only focused on identifying correlations, Husain said. It’s not magic, it’s a tool, he said.

Husain spoke about deploying AI in a talk on the model-based enterprise with lessons learned from working with large customers like Verizon, Boeing, State Street, and others. SparkCognition, an artificial intelligence technology company, makes applications for industries such as oil and gas, defense, utilities, aviation, and financial services.

SparkCognition also recently partnered with Boeing to form SkyGrid, a joint venture focused on delivering unmanned aircraft system traffic management solutions through AI and blockchain technologies.

The impact of AI is horizontal and applies to all industries including food service, construction, wholesale and retail, agriculture, social services, transportation and storage, Husain said. The magnitude of that impact is unignorable, he said.

During his presentation, Husain displayed a slide quoting various reports on the impact of AI on the global economy. “AI could boost average profit by 38 percent and lead to an economic impact of $14 Trillion by 2035,” according to Accenture.

AI also can be used to distribute resources more effectively, Husain said. It focuses everyone to ask questions about whether there is enough food and energy in the world for everyone and enough capital for everyone. With the application of AI, in many cases, the answer will be yes, Husain said.

“The question is will we make the choice to bring the world that allows everyone access to these opportunities that AI creates,” Husain said.

He acknowledged that there some fear and ethical concerns exist around the deployment of AI. Those things must be addressed, he said.

AI is about four things: perception, decision-making, acting, and learning, Husain said. The Japanese process of Kaizen or continuous learning and improvement is the result of machine learning and AI, he said. During his presentation, he gave examples of the application of machine learning in loan approval in the financial services industry, the military identifying a target, and utility industry using data from sensors to detect equipment failures.

In these scenarios, AI and machine learning have automated work done by human beings and created a workflow that continuously improves over time, Husain said. That way of thinking lets companies look at the workflows that drive their companies and automating ones that make sense to drive increased productivity and revenue, he said.

The modern driven enterprise is a bunch of these AI-driven workflows running together in parallel at scale, Husain said. Scale-up a million processes in different areas like sales, marketing, and human resources and suddenly a company that has one million virtual workers, he said.

“What I’m talking about is that when you move to a model like this you can create scale and capability the likes of which has never existed on planet earth,” Husain said. “So modern driven enterprises change the game. First of all, because these processes are digitized, they can be replicated.”

With AI, a company can have two million digital workers doing sales price comparisons autonomously across the inventory of the largest company in the world in a particular category of product, no problem, Husain said.

“If you’ve got the compute capacity to launch the AI pipeline running these models, you’re in business,” Husain said.