Last November, just months before his death, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was widely reported as saying the emergence of artificial intelligence, the ability of machines to learn and solve problems based on data, “could be the worst event in the history of our civilization.”
Although that statement grabbed headlines, Hawking also said the emergence of artificial intelligence could also be the “biggest event in the history of our civilization.”
“I am an optimist,” said Hawking, “and I believe that we can create AI for the good of the world, that it can work in harmony with us. We simply need to be aware of the dangers, identify them, employ the best possible practice and management, and prepare for its consequences well in advance.”
Jack Copper, CEO of NeuralStudio SEZC, a Grand Cayman-based company in Cayman Enterprise City, is an optimist, too, and he believes the artificial intelligence platform he has completed with the help of Camana Bay-based SALT Technology Group can create a lot of good in the world. Copper has received a big vote of confidence on his product from none other than Microsoft, which published a case study this summer, referring to NeuralStudio’s scalable platform as having “groundbreaking automated machine learning capabilities.”
“AI creating AI. That’s our tagline,” said Copper of the technology behind his company, explaining that with artificial intelligence, machines learn from data in ways humans cannot.
“With all the data available now from multiple sources, there’s way too much for humans to understand and, more importantly, base decisions on,” he said. “No matter where you want to apply AI, you want to apply it to help make better decisions.”
Copper, who graduated with a degree in nuclear science from the University of Virginia, said a neural network in a machine learns from data using algorithms that take into account what has historically actually happened when sets of variables — or data inputs — occurred together.
“The neural network analyzes the relationships of the variables, produces a result, compares the result to what actually happened, and then makes adjustments to reduce the error,” said Copper. “That is the learning process maybe not so hard when there are only one or two inputs, but very complex when there are many.”
What NeuralStudio does with its product is make the power of artificial intelligence available to a wide section of businesses all over the world.
“There’s a very steep learning curve to becoming proficient to a level where AI can be opitmised,” said Copper, noting that data science is a relatively new field. “I have a lot of experience and I wanted to make access to AI neural networks straightforward for business owners. Now anyone working with data can have access to this technology without being an expert.” The process of using the platform is as easy as entering data into a simple form and uploading it to the NeuralStudio website.
“All they have to do is tell us what they want to predict,” he said. “Anyone who has a level of understanding of data and knows what they want the data to show can use this application.”
There are many practical applications of the technology in the business world, as well as in the world of science.
“The obvious one in the Cayman Islands is in virtually any forecasting or risk analysis aspect of the financial services industry,” he said. “That’s the low-hanging fruit for application.”
Another possible application includes weather forecasting.
“This platform could be beneficial in improving weather forecasts.”
SALT Technology Group
Microsoft became aware of NeuralStudio because Copper worked with Camana Bay-based SALT Technology Group, a Microsoft Gold Partner, on how to best bring his product to market. SALT immediately recommended Microsoft Azure, a cloud-based computing service created to build, test, deploy and manage applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers.
SALT’s Victor Meyer worked closely with Copper on the project.
“We made the fundamental early decision that Azure was the platform to provide the infrastructure,” Meyer said, adding that Azure could provide the three necessary actions needed to run the application, namely preparing the data, creating models and running the models, while at the same time easily localising the NeuralStudio platform for implementation in different geographical areas. Copper said there are already plans to launch localised versions of the application in Japan, France and China.
Meyer said the fact that Microsoft published a case study on NeuralStudio’s application was a big deal in that not that many companies are highlighted.
“In my 13 years in the industry, in which I’ve only worked with Microsoft products, I have never worked with a customer that was published,” he said. “I think it can’t be understated how unique and special it is.”
The case study can have beneficial impacts beyond bringing in customers, Meyer said, pointing out that Microsoft clearly states NeuralStudio is a Cayman Islands-based company.
“We hope that through this case study, we’ll see more of this kind of new and innovative technology coming to the Cayman Islands and that Cayman becomes a hub for technology,” he said. “It would be good for Cayman, and good for SALT.”
Having businesses around the world use the NeuralStudio solution will also put the Cayman Islands in the technology spotlight.
“There are just a handful of companies globally trying to do what we’ve done in making AI accessible,” Meyer said. “I honestly think the sky is the limit.”