Two Companies Powering the AI Revolution

Aaron Gentzler: Thanks for making time today with your busy schedule. How’s it going down south?

Ray Blanco:  Doing great down here in Florida. Nice and warm.

Aaron Gentzler:  Excellent. Always great to hear. Let’s get right to it. Today, I want to talk artificial intelligence (AI). Can you give a big picture overview?

Ray Blanco:  Sure, traditionally the way we’ve dealt with computers is, you program it to do what you want it to do. You give it a condition. If the condition is met, it does X, if not, it does Y.

With AI, the computer can program itself. It learns from experience by analyzing data so that it programs itself over time. It’s learning, just as humans do.

I would say the two biggest ways that we’ll see AI in our own lives, will be through things like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or through self-driving cars that are starting to come to market.

Aaron Gentzler: Great point, which leads me to my first specific question. AI is already around us every day. If you have a car with collision avoidance technology or unassisted braking technology for example, that’s AI right?

And as driverless technology becomes more widespread, the need for AI is only going to get stronger, correct?

Ray Blanco:  I believe so. Right now it’s all low-level automation. But AI is making driving a lot safer. Over time AI will get more complex and advanced. Making these safety systems even better.

For example, at the Computer Electronics Show (CES) this year, Nvidia unveiled a new system that sits on a single chip. It’s called a “system on a chip”, or SOC. Nvidia claims that with this chip system, a car can reach “Level 5 autonomy”. The car could drive itself like a human without any assistance.

And we’re already starting to see things move in this direction. A major selling point is safety. And new studies now estimate that by 2035 we could be saving half a million lives worldwide because of AI driven cars.

Aaron Gentzler:  But this trend isn’t limited to Nvidia right? Intel put out a report that by 2020 they see driverless technology much more widespread than it is right now. They see it as an $800 billion industry by 2035.

It obvious this trend is only going to grow, and the flow of cash to this idea over the years to come is going to be incredible.

But, onto another thought.

I read recently that at first, when driverless technology is on the roads and mixed with human controlled vehicles, the biggest risk to driverless cars will be the human controlled cars.

Ray Blanco:  I think that’s fair. How do you feel when somebody cuts you off or something like that? Plus, people don’t drive the same everywhere. How are the AIs going to deal with that?

Aaron Gentzler:  Right…

Ray Blanco: There’s different driving cultures from city to city and state to state that the AIs in these cars are will have to learn. Incredibly, they’re already learning this type of stuff.

These AI systems are building databases, analyzing routes and all kinds of cool stuff. They’re building maps of images so that they can identify objects on the road, other vehicles, pedestrians and things like that. And it’s getting better all the time.

Aaron Gentzler:  Fascinating insights… what do you expect for the year ahead?

Ray Blanco: The trends that made 2017 great for tech investors are only going to be bigger in 2018. The technologies are maturing. We’re talking about stuff like AI, which autonomous driving is a major part of. We’re talking about financial technology and blockchain, which you’ll be hearing more about soon.

We’re talking about augmented and virtual reality, which, is steadily maturing and entering a growth phase. All these together… it’s like buying tech in the ’90s.

There was this major tech trend then, right?

Aaron Gentzler: There certainly was. The internet boom was a legendary time for the tech stocks.

Ray Blanco: Exactly. And I think we’re in that type of situation right now. It’s coming at us from different directions, but with all this stuff hitting us at the same time, it’s a perfect convergence for technology investors.

Aaron Gentzler: Let’s hope 2018 ends up even better than 2017. Ray, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate you taking a few minutes to talk shop on your 2018 outlook.

Ray Blanco: It’s been a pleasure. Talk to you soon.

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