Exclusive Talk with Nigel Willson, Global Strategist @ Microsoft

Nige WillsonAbout Nigel WillsonFor nearly twenty years Nigel has been at Microsoft helping clients to write the future, most recently as Global Strategist with a focus on innovation and near future trends. He is a frequent speaker at events on artificial intelligence & respected social media contributor on AI / ML & tech topics.

 

Asif: What do you predict will be some of the biggest business opportunities & industries affected by Artificial Intelligence?

Nigel: Artificial Intelligence has already become so pervasive it is in every industry and locality in the world is some shape or form, I think the opportunity is making truly a transformative technology by making it available to everyone.

By democratising AI, we can make it accessible to consumers / business users through embedding it into the applications that they use on a daily basis (like office productivity applications) for language translation, transcription (voice to text) and digital personal assistants.

If I was pull out one industry to watch it would be Healthcare – there is massive opportunities through use of AI in Healthcare that would bring direct benefit to all of us.

Asif: What is something you wish someone had told you when you first started your profession? How did you get interested in Artificial Intelligence?

Nigel: I wish someone had told me about the exponential nature of the technology we are creating and to prepare for a wild ride, the rate of change and disruption is really gathering pace and showing no signs of slowing – at the start of my career I thought it was something I would learn and be done, but we live in the times of the Contunual Learner.

I have been interested in AI for a long time, back when algorithms were plotting routes on Sat Navs using the A* algorithm, the advances have been massive since then, but we are excitingly still in AI infancy, there is plenty more to come !

Asif: Many people believe that Artificial Intelligence could bring the apocalypse, what are your views?

Nigel: Personally I believe AI will become incredibly powerful, but a tool like any other – I don’t believe we will see sentience or the singularity in my lifetime, but frankly I would be a fool to say it would never happen ! Like all tools in the wrong hands it could do incredibly bad things, but the possibility of all the good that could be done encourages me – as does the recent interest from governments and politicians in making sure the right policies and controls are in place – and more importantly there is now lots of public discussion and debate which is much needed, as awareness is key.

Asif: What books have influenced your thoughts the most?

Nigel: So many – from popular scifi writers like Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov to contemporary futurists like Thomas Frey and Ray Kurzweil

Recently I have read Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark , Surviving AI by Calum Chase and Non-obvious Trends 2018 by Rohit Bhargava – all great books for different reasons

Asif: What advice would you give startups when starting their journey in Artificial Intelligence?

Nigel: Firstly don’t try and be an AI start-up – there are already too many with too vague a mission – look for a business problem to solve and look to see if AI can enhance or improve your solution.

Secondly, don’t create unless you have too, consume what there is – there are already lots of commodity solutions and API’s you can use and Cloud services give you access to them at incredibly low cost (or sometimes free) – try to use as much commodity AI services as you can and build your value proposition on top.

Asif: What are your views about MarkTechPost?

Nigel: MarkTechPost is a great place to go to get great info and insights, it one of several places I bookmark to look for content to reshare. I like the way you get insight and not just content re-share too, people value opinion and commentary rather than just re-share.

 

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Asif Razzaq is an AI Journalist and Cofounder of Marktechpost, LLC. He is a visionary, entrepreneur and engineer who aspires to use the power of Artificial Intelligence for good. Asif's latest venture is the development of an Artificial Intelligence Media Platform (Marktechpost) that will revolutionize how people can find relevant news related to Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Machine Learning. Asif was featured by Onalytica in it’s ‘Who’s Who in AI? (Influential Voices & Brands)’ as one of the 'Influential Journalists in AI' (https://onalytica.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Whos-Who-In-AI.pdf). His interview was also featured by Onalytica (https://onalytica.com/blog/posts/interview-with-asif-razzaq/).