The power of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform our working lives was the topic of debate at our latest North West alumni breakfast.
Our speaker was Glyn Powditch, co-founder of Dream Agility, an award-winning machine learning ad tech platform that connects advertisers to social media giants such as Google and Amazon.
Glyn told the audience how he first began planning the business while studying for his MBA, and in 2015 the company secured a £750,000 investment to complete construction of a machine learning platform.
Since launch the company has secured a number of clients including leading mobile phone and record reseller Music Magpie. As Glyn explained: “Our business is all about taking data and then optimising that product data. We use AI to make it more profitable to perform shopping and search.”
He said the issue for many brands today was that different people within a specific business were often adding content to websites at the same time, and companies weren’t thinking properly about how people search for particular items. “The way that some companies brand products can be useless for search engines,” he added.
Glyn said the concepts behind AI had actually been around since the 1950s, but in the early days it was very rules-based for specific tasks.
He said one of the big differences today is that cloud-based hosting solutions have driven the development of neural networks which allow “billions of plays” of a scenario by a machine. “If you take digital advertising we can do months of work in just 20 minutes for a digital agency,” he added.
He said we were on the cusp of a revolution that will transform our lives. “Some people say this is just automation all over again, but this is different because we are increasingly seeing white collar automation. The Economist magazine recently said that the rate of change in automation was four to five times any previous level of automation growth.”
But he added that this was about more than automation, and there were many unanswered questions. “What are we going to learn from machine learning? And are we ever going to fully know given that a machine cannot explain why it knows what it knows?”
Meantime, these are exciting times for Dream Agility which has also just begun a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Alliance MBS and the University of Manchester. “We are working on taking what we have at the moment and supercharging it,” added Glyn.