Opinion: SJ’s pro-AI development proposal “absolutely the right call”

Two San Jose AI companies—A-CX and InfoObjects—and UC Berkeley finance prof/AI researcher Anastassia Fedyk comment on Mayor Mahan and CM Cohen’s initiative to promote local artificial intelligence innovation. Making AI “approachable,” they explain, involves tapping into population density, university talent, and civic problem-solving. An Opp Now exclusive.

Ilpo Niva, A-CX CEO and co-founder:

Population density sparks innovation. AI is the biggest technology disruption of our generation. As the largest city in the Silicon Valley, and with the diminishing appeal of San Francisco, San Jose has a golden opportunity to claim its position. The AI revolution is similar to the online revolution at the turn of the millennium: It’ll impact virtually every company. In our view at A-CX, the biggest challenge is making AI approachable. We’d love to work with Mayor Mahan on building San Jose, the city that makes this happen. Not just a city where the privileged few build technology but the city where AI goes mainstream.

David Eddings, InfoObjects president:

With physical offices for our firm now in seven countries, the City of San Jose’s AI Program proposed by Mayor Mahan further underscores why we maintain our core operations, including our InfoObjects Headquarters and Incubation Center, right in the heart of Silicon Valley here in San Jose.

Anastassia Fedyk, UC Berkeley finance professor, artificial intelligence researcher:

Based on my research, one of the key factors for firms’ ability to implement AI is human capital. There is limited AI talent, and AI workers are in very high demand. What’s the main source of this talent? Universities. So firms with links to universities that produce high-skilled AI graduates have a much easier time succeeding with AI. In this respect, San Jose has a clear head-start, with so many great technical undergraduate degrees with strong AI programs in the vicinity.

I appreciate Mayor Mahan’s focus on applying technology to civic challenges such as climate change and traffic safety. I’ve been working with the AI for Good Foundation, a nonprofit set up in 2015 to direct emerging technology such as machine learning and AI towards areas that benefit society, including UN Sustainable Development Goals. At the Foundation, we’ve worked on prototyping solutions for climate change, food security, disaster relief, smart cities, gender equality in the workforce, among others, and we’ve worked with nonprofit, government, and corporate partners. It’s an area rife with opportunity to do more, and it’s absolutely the right call to engage industry towards these important challenges instead of things like maximizing ad revenues.


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