The Assembly Line And The Artificial Intelligence Line

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The other I likened the process for taking apart a Job To Be Done to taking a part a lobster. There’s a very effective way to decompose any problem with enough energy.

And then I watched The Founder on Netflix and admired the McDonald brothers using a classic technique in management science to refine a system on a tennis court. And I loved it. They really refined hamburger and frenched fry delivery.

And then this morning I read that Andrew Ng in working on a new coursera course for AI. And I’m thankful for his initiative and optimism.

Out of those three threads, this one post.

The Assembly Line

The assembly line was an American invention for Americans. It could have only happened in America. The Europeans all value craftsmanship. The assembly line was, culturally, an unwanted technical advancement in some parts of the world. But the assembly line – people doing simple repetitive tasks – and the organization of labor and technology, was itself brilliant. Interchangeable parts also brought about large improvements, which in a way, I’ll credit for the invention of conjoint analysis a lot of concepts in product management.

You’ll hear sort of a gnawing annoyance in VC circles about the generalizability of artificial intelligence. You sort of get hundreds of companies that are disrupting narrow problems worth 20 million dollars, but no single unicorn company able to take them all down with one swoop.

To date, when to break apart all the work that goes into building an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) or any sort of narrow machine intelligence, there’s a distinct European feeling to it. Because organizations undergo various stages of organization, they generate data that becomes disorganized over time. So you have to get an artisan data scientist to massage the raw ingredients. And then they have to manually pull on a bunch of knobs to get it to make good predictions. And even then, somebody has to write the monitoring. And then somebody has to go manage the business.

Artificial intelligence, in particular, narrow machine intelligence, is so far from an assembly line.

The whole system has to be visible to a single mind, and a single group of minds, to be able to make it all make sense.

Optimism

At some point, and only because Capital wants it to be so, a narrow method of assembling a narrow machine intelligence will come to be. And, just as the assembly line made better things better, these narrow machine intelligence’s will be better.

If you chose to believe that the advancement of technology makes things better, if you have that optimism, then you have to conclude that it’ll all work out, because the benefits are so great.

We’ll invent something else for people to do. We always do.