Future of Investing in AI
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Future of Investing in AI

Jul 27, 2023

Paritosh Kulkarni






From an investor's POV — understand and imagine markets that will create fresh jobs, untried lives, and an entirely novel lifestyle where machines and humans will work together to share experiences and intelligence.

In 2023, the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) is unquestionable, with the integration of data and generative AI into industries fostering innovation and efficiency. Among these advancements, Large Language Models (LLMs) and Computer Vision (CV) are leading the charge, acting as potent catalysts for what pundits now call the ‘artificial intelligence revolution.’ Combined, they possess an extraordinary potential to revolutionize labor-intensive sectors such as construction, agriculture, beauty and luxury, life sciences, and environmental management. Innovations like Open AI's GPT-4, Orbo.AI's Beauty Mirror, Canvas’ drywall finishing robot, Orchard Robotics’ precision crop management system, and Carbon Robotics’ AI-powered LaserWeeder™ are paving the way towards this new era.

Large Language Models like GPT-3 and the newly launched GPT-4 are on the cusp of accelerating an unprecedented disruption across both application and infrastructure levels. Unsupervised learning advancements in transformer and few-shot models have allowed these model parameters and corresponding accuracy to grow exponentially without significant degradation in the loss function.

With the rise of big data since 2015, the problem came, who or what will process, analyze, and parse this data? Humans live complex lives, and hiring humans in developing countries on $2/hour jobs proved unsustainable to continue number and text crunching to fill in Excel files. Previously, AI was predominantly about prediction tasks, such as classification or recommendation. However, the transformative paper "Attention is All You Need" released the world to a new form of neural network — the transformer model. This innovation ushered in a step-change in AI capabilities, moving from merely predicting to creating. Now AI is reading through Excel files and documents and enabling humans to move toward creative and innovative tasks that AI cannot do yet.

The rise of GPT-4, in particular, signals a shift in the capabilities of AI. This large language model can generate remarkably accurate and detailed human-like text, making it a powerful tool for various applications. It demonstrates a significant improvement in language understanding, context retention, and the ability to fill gaps in language using natural language processing (NLP). Given this, we will move our focus beyond LLMs and generative AI to see how transformers and algorithms like stable diffusion enable industries to change the norm.

The role of AI is not confined to being a mere enabler of transformative software. Instead, it catalyzes industry-wide changes, offering efficient and effective solutions to core business problems and driving sustainable, long-term value. We will focus on two areas — agriculture and construction and analyze example ventures in 2023 that are focusing on these aspects.

An example of this transformative power of AI lies in integrating AI in the agricultural sector, specifically with Carbon Robotics’ pioneering AI-powered LaserWeeder™.

The global agribusiness, a $5 trillion behemoth, is at a critical juncture with escalating food demand and limited resources. By 2050, we expect a 70% surge in caloric demand and a 100% increase in crop demand, a scale that traditional methods cannot meet. The complexity of agricultural supply chains and the asymmetry between demand and production amplify this challenge. However, artificial intelligence (AI) offers a transformative solution. From precision farming to optimizing the entire value chain, AI technologies enhance production, reduce costs, and unlock new opportunities. The U.S., now one of the largest meat consumers and exporters and a burgeoning player in plant-based meat production, is leveraging AI to meet these demands.Similarly, China uses AI to modernize agribusiness and cater to rising middle-class protein needs. Without AI, meeting the escalating global food demand efficiently and sustainably is nearly impossible. AI's adoption in agriculture is not just a trend but a necessity.

Carbon Robotics: Redefining Agriculture with AI

By integrating AI into agricultural practices, Carbon Robotics is revolutionizing the field of sustainable agriculture. Their LaserWeeder™ is an AI-powered robotic system that uses computer vision to identify and eliminate weeds in specialty vegetable crops with millimeter accuracy. This innovation reduces herbicide use, eliminates unnecessary tilling, and, in some cases, removes the need for large weeding crews, making it a game-changer in the agricultural industry.

The potential integration of LLMs, like GPT-4, could further enhance this agricultural innovation by providing more intuitive and comprehensive reports on the weeding process, predicting future weed growth patterns, and suggesting optimal times for planting and harvesting. Combining LLMs and CV makes a more holistic, efficient, and environmentally friendly solution for farmers worldwide achievable.

Orchard Robotics: Precision Agriculture Powered by AI

The agricultural sector is ripe for the benefits of AI integration. Orchard Robotics spearheads this revolution with its AI-first approach to precision crop management. Their tractor-mounted camera systems, powered by CV, collect data about every tree in an orchard. The Orchard OS software platform then utilizes this data to optimize farming operations.

Applying LLMs in their system could enhance the user experience, providing farmers with more intuitive ways to interact with the data and make informed decisions. LLMs could analyze large datasets, generate reports, and even predict trends based on historical data, thereby assisting farmers in planning their strategies.

Construction and infrastructure development are fundamentally one of the most labor-intensive, long term and machine-heavy industries. Given the need to prevent errors and injuries and accelerate global development, the $10 trillion global construction industry is ripe for AI-powered disruption, responding to labor shortages, rising costs, and demands for sustainability. From intelligent machinery to predictive analytics, AI could address inefficiencies, driving up ROI by as much as 30%. The asymmetrical scale and complexity of the sector render it an attractive target for algorithm-driven solutions, signaling a new era of productivity and value creation. For example — MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms is pioneering in construction automation, spearheading the development of robots with self-assembling capabilities. These robots, designed around ‘voxels’ — components that share power, data, and structural force — are built to construct more of themselves, thus continuously expanding their form. While hurdles remain, such as amplifying the robots’ intelligence and reinforcing their hardware connections, the researchers remain optimistic. Neil Gershenfeld, the research paper's co-author, emphasizes that building these structures necessitates embedded intelligence and a concept of ‘structural electronics.’ This innovation, he proposes, could revolutionize large-scale construction, potentially minimizing the need for massive capital investments and making otherwise impractical projects feasible. The intersection of this technological advancement with the burgeoning construction industry aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, underscoring the importance of efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and innovative industrialization.

Canvas: Revolutionizing Construction with Robotics

LLMs and CV can work in synergy to alleviate the issues faced by industries like construction. Canvas, a trailblazing company led by its CTO, Maria Telleria, harnesses the potential of AI to improve construction processes. Their worker-operated machine uses CV to automate the drywall finishing process, reducing manual labor and improving safety and efficiency.

The Canvas machine can complete mudding and sanding tasks up to 40% faster than manual processes. It mitigates the risk of joint injuries associated with drywall finishing, reduces dust inhalation, and even eliminates the risk of falls with its telescopic arm. This innovative application of CV, backed by LLMs to improve user interaction, not only increases productivity but also safeguards worker health — a testament to the transformative power of AI.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming an indispensable tool in the life sciences, from drug discovery and precision medicine to disease prediction and personalized patient care. AI's ability to rapidly analyze vast amounts of data and generate actionable insights is proving to be a game-changer in understanding complex biological systems and diseases. In particular, integrating AI in studying and managing aging and age-related diseases represents a paradigm shift in healthcare and medical research.

One of the front-runners in integrating AI in life sciences is Teal, a company developing an analytics platform to explore how people age and discover new ways to prevent the onset of age-related diseases. Built on the groundbreaking research conducted at Stanford University's Wyss-Coray lab, Teal's platform leverages the power of AI to unravel the complexities of aging biology.

The platform, enriched by years of research, capitalizes on the lab's discoveries that proteins found in the blood can provide powerful insights into the body's functional state, biological age, and risk of disease. This unique approach allows Teal to delve into the intricate processes of aging and disease progression, shedding light on potential preventative and therapeutic strategies.

The Science Behind Teal

Teal's technology builds on over 25 years of academic research in Stanford University's Wyss-Coray lab. The lab has primarily focused on brain aging and neurodegeneration, particularly age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. From this work, it was discovered that circulatory blood factors could modulate brain structure and function, and elements from young organisms can rejuvenate old brains.

Teal's science hinges on the belief that a comprehensive understanding of aging biology will ultimately lead to insights that will expedite the identification of new approaches for treating aging and age-related diseases. Their work primarily uses human proteomics to understand aging and measure health.

By harnessing the power of AI, Teal is pioneering a novel approach to aging and age-related diseases. Their platform could unlock new pathways to preventive measures and treatments, transforming our health and longevity approach. As we continue to witness the integration of AI in life sciences, companies like Teal underscore the potential of AI-powered technologies to revolutionize healthcare and improve human life.

In 2023, the $2.5 trillion global fashion industry braces for an AI-fueled metamorphosis. As creative flair meets generative AI, brands explore innovative ways to expedite production, enhance sales efficacy, and elevate customer experiences. While the industry has dabbled in frontier technologies like metaverse, NFTs, digital IDs, and augmented reality, it's now setting its sights on generative AI. This technology promises to redefine the dynamics of creativity. By McKinsey's estimates, generative AI could potentially infuse between $150-$275 billion into the operating profits of apparel, fashion, and luxury sectors in the next 3–5 years. Despite being in its early stages, the technology showcases promising use-cases, signaling a transformative era for the fashion, beauty, and luxury sectors.

Orbo AI, spearheaded by founder Manoj Shinde, is carving out its niche in the intersection of AI and the beauty industry. Their mission is to pioneer a new era of AI-assisted visual experiences and personalized recommendations, responding to the rising demand for hyper-personalized beauty services in an industry projected to reach $785 billion by 2027.

Orbo's unique AI platform adds a fresh dynamic to the beautiful landscape. Customers can upload a photo or try on makeup in real time, and the AI algorithm will kick into action, analyzing 27 skin parameters. Based on this unique skin signature, customers receive a bespoke list of product recommendations tailored to their needs. This novel approach to beauty retail has the potential to revolutionize the way consumers interact with beauty brands, providing these brands with valuable, individualized consumer data.

With its innovative tech, Orbo AI is transforming customer experiences and promising to reshape business dynamics. By providing highly personalized recommendations, Orbo's platform offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional performance marketing, empowering businesses to lower customer acquisition costs and enhance profitability.

This cutting-edge concept has already begun to pay off. In FY22, Orbo AI closed at $260K in revenue, their first year of commercialization. In FY23, they’ve already booked $750K, and the project will close at $1.6 million.

Their clientele includes an impressive roster of international names, such as Unilever London and Believe in Singapore, and dominant retailers in India, like Tata Palette and ShopperStop.

Orbo AI is on track to raise $6 million in the current round to further fuel its growth and global market expansion. Samsung Ventures and Orbo's existing VCs, including Yournest and Founders Bank Capital Singapore, have already pledged their participation. As Orbo AI continues its journey, the fusion of AI and the beauty industry promises a future where personalized luxury is not an exception but the norm.

The evolution of AI does not stop here. As research advances, new generative models will continue to be developed. Generative AI models are already emerging across various data types, including text, images, audio, and video. These models and advancements, like GPT-4, provide developers with the infrastructure to build innovative, disruptive applications.

The convergence of LLMs and CV in robotics is set to redefine labor-intensive sectors. Companies like Canvas, Orchard Robotics, and Carbon Robotics are at the forefront of this AI revolution. By enhancing safety, improving efficiency, promoting sustainable practices, and enabling easy interaction with complex data, the synergy of LLMs and CV is truly shaping the future of labor.

The continual development of foundational models, increasing data quality and availability, and declining computing costs sets the stage for an exciting future. These developments will drive the rise of applications that can fundamentally change our work and daily lives.

As an angel investor in leading computer vision companies that target beauty (Orbo.ai) and security (IoTian Technologies), I have a strong thesis on the co-development of hardware and software as integrated plug-and-play solutions. A comprehensive solution will deliver value, create new markets, and enhance existing ones. Orbo AI promises to provide personalized beauty care at a low cost to villages, towns, and middle-class Indian and Asian populations, as well as catering to the luxury of Manhattan residents. IoTian Technologies developed cameras and a video processing AI algorithm that counts, alerts, and analyzes construction sites and oil and gas projects with high radian communication bandwidth and low energy costs.

Paritosh is a seasoned leader, two-time entrepreneur, and strategic investor, boasting a comprehensive blend of expertise in AI and alternative investments in the healthcare & biopharmaceutical industry. With over seven years of experience working with venture capital firms, startups, and large organizations like New York Presbyterian Hospital, Paritosh's career highlights a consistent thread of innovation and leadership. As a Senior Associate at VU Venture Partners, Paritosh developed a robust deal-sourcing pipeline, which yielded high-profile deals and a successful $100M fund. His tenure as a Data Scientist at Pivotal Life Sciences saw the development of AI-powered decision algorithms, leading to a marked increase in efficient decision-making and savings during exits. His contributions to society and the field of AI extend beyond his professional roles, with his active involvement as an angel investor since 2016. Paritosh's blend of technical expertise, strategic thinking, and commitment to social impact make him a dynamic leader in his field.

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Beyond LLMs — Vertically Integrated AI — A Catalyst for Industry Transformation Carbon Robotics : Redefining Agriculture with AI Orchard Robotics : Precision Agriculture Powered by AI Canvas: Revolutionizing Construction with Robotics Teal Omics: Unraveling the Mysteries of Aging with AI The Science Behind Teal The Future Trajectory of AI