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Re:MARS Insights - Part 2 - Notes from the Top Minds in AI

It felt like I was living a dream. I got to spend 4 days in Las Vegas talking about Artificial Intelligence at Amazon's Re:MARS conference. MARS stands for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space. If you know me, you know how much I love all those things (and Vegas).

Over the course of the 3 blog posts, I hit on some of the key takeaways of the event, and how the latest trends in the industry will impact your business.

Part 1: AI For All - The Democratization of AI

Part 2: Notes from Top Artificial Intelligence Minds (this one)

Part 3: What's Next - Mind Blowing AI Use Cases

The conference was chock full of incredible keynotes and sessions led by top minds in AI and Robotics. I took as many notes as I could. Here are some of the highlights.

Andrew Ng - AI guru and Founder of

When it comes to taking on an AI project for your company, do these three things:

  1. Start small to squash skepticism and gain positive momentum. Many won't know what AI is or won't believe in it. Achieve success quickly.

  2. Use AI to automate tasks, not jobs. Tasks are repeatable and simple in comparison to entire jobs.

  3. Combine AI expertise and Subject Matter Expertise to maximize tribal business-specific knowledge with AI's capabilities.

AI value creation will exceed $13T by 2030 due to unprecedented access to talent (2.5M online AI learners), tools (platforms enabling accelerated development workflows), and ideas (100 papers being published per day on AI).

Kate Darling - Research Specialist, MIT Media Lab

Kate spoke on interesting research being done on how humans view and interact with robots. Studies have shown that humans grow rather affectionate for their robots, even treating them better than other humans.

For example, many people give names to their Roombas or hold candlelight vigils when they stop working. In a video of a Boston Dynamics four-legged robot, a human kicks the robot out of frustration and the robot falls to the ground. PETA was up in arms! But why, it was just a robot?

As robots and humans continue living together, humans will learn more and more about ourselves and how we treat our fellow robots. It's such a very interesting topic that I've never really considered.

Jeff Bezos - Founder & CEO of Amazon

Bezos was interviewed in a fireside chat style setting. Here's a summary of what he said.

On change: The world is so dynamic that if you don't change your views, you'll be wrong a lot. At Amazon, leadership tries to listen a lot, and will even change their mind even without new data to support it.

On gaining project support: He says he often does have trouble winning support on an idea. Consensus may never be reached, so they follow a "disagree and commit" model where even though you may not be completely bought in, you do need to be completely committed to the project. He'll often tell other leaders "I want you to gamble with me on this." He knows when it's time to throw in the towel on a project when the last high-judgement champion has thrown in the towel.

On entrepreneurship: Be customer obsessed and always aim to delight them. Take risks. Be open to failure. Take big swings. Risk is always capped on the downside, but reward is unlimited on the upside. Companies need to adopt this entrepreneurial mindset too.

Larry Pizette - Head of ML Solutions Lab , Amazon Web Services

When on the Machine Learning Journey (see image), the Pit of Cultural Acceptance is inevitable. This is where people naturally begin to feel uncomfortable with the changes being made or they begin to struggle to wrap their head around the capabilities of machine learning. Transformation at every level is required to get out of it successfully.

Random Takeaways / Notes From Various Keynotes and Sessions

AI may be the single largest transition our species has ever encountered. It is enabling the scalability of expertise - knowledge of one becomes the knowledge of many.

Machine learning shouldn't be centralized at your company. It should be decentralized, sprinkled everywhere in the company so all parts of the company can benefit.

"Fail fast and make better mistakes tomorrow" - Disney Animatronics Team

Alexa will soon shift from transactional style requests to conversations, and will be a lot more proactive like booking Uber based on movie tickets you've bought.

Robert Downey Jr announced his new organization called the Footprint Coalition - aimed at using AI to clean the entire world in 10 years. "Between robotics and technology, we could probably clean up the planet significantly, if not entirely, within a decade," he said.

Wrapping Up Part 2

That's a lot to digest. At Louder Co., we help you discover applications for AI that will revolutionize the way you do business so you can become the best in your industry. We make AI even easier, really.

Curious about how AI can work for you? We offer a free 1-hour strategy session here. You’ll leave our conversation with a few tangible ideas. 

You can also find our Intro to AI deck here. 

Your guide, 


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