AI First – Artificial Intelligence Is Taking off in 2017

From online-first to mobile-first, we are currently entering the phase of AI-first. Artificial Intelligence is the consequence of an online, digital, connected, mobile, data-driven, computerized world. Let me explain why.

The 5 Main Drives for the Rise of Artificial Intelligence

There are five main drivers supporting the current Rise of Artificial Intelligence.

The more data the better for Artificial Intelligence

Nowadays almost everything is based on data. We humans measure, store and analyse everything imaginable. Every machine is based on data, with everything ultimately reducing down to a zero or a one.

The amount of data we produce as humans and machines is increasing every year. The more data we produce, the more of it we can feed into Artificial Intelligence systems. Why? Because we need it. The more data generated, the more complex our environment gets. Artificial Intelligence helps us to reduce some of that complexity.

Cloud solutions have started a process in which data is no longer stored on just one physical server, but is accessible everywhere at all times. This means the data can be harnessed more easily and used by other software, including AIs. Some call it the API economy, and even now Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication already creates more data than human-to-human communication.

Artificial Intelligence is embedded into hardware

Chips are the brains of computers and they are getting a lot smarter. Google builds its own AI chips, as do Microsoft and Nvidia. The special chips they create are suitable for running neural networks and other machine learning tools which can support smarter AIs.

Soon these chips will meet the Internet of Things wave. AI-strengthened chips will be integrated into mobile phones, tablets, cars, drones, vending machines, robots and TVs. We can expect an intelligence upgrade for electronic items.

Software becomes smarter and hybridized

Every day there are really smart people out there improving on tools to create Artificial Intelligences. We are also starting to see more and more hybrid systems which combine expert systems, machine learning, bots and deep learning.

Deep learning has been around for 15 years, but has only come to the public’s attention in the last 3 years. There are therefore still a lot of findings and research results to be analysed and applied to real-world problems.

Universities researching machine learning and cognitive systems are now getting more attention, funding, clients and applicants. The academic world is awakening from its hibernation.

It is going to be easy to build your own Artificial Intelligence

You want to build your own AI one day? Deepmind has opened their own open source lab. OpenAI offers Universe for training of AIs. Google also shares Tensorflow. You can also use Theano and Torch.

There are already plenty of tools and soon there will be even more. Day by day, creating, building and training Artificial Intelligence systems will become easier and easier until we reach a democratization of intelligence creation.

Capital follows the entrepreneurs into AI

Over the last two years we have seen a surge in AI companies. Not everything which is labelled AI contains an AI inside. Maybe 90% of the companies are applying machine learning, but they aren’t building a self-improving, cognitive system.

Nevertheless, the trend is very positive. And where the ideas are, the money follows. Americans VCs have poured billions of dollars into AI startups.

Google, Twitter, Intel, Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce, Facebook, eBay, Oracle – they have all recently purchased young AI companies.

Consequence of the Rise of Artificial Intelligences

New technologies always bring about change.

Four steps towards Artificial Intelligence

There are four steps for a company to reach Artificial Intelligence.

From Big Data to AI

Firstly, data needs to be collected, stored and analysed. This is outdated thinking and tells you something about the past.

Secondly, machines start to make predictions based on the data. These predictions help humans to make faster, easier and better decisions.

Thirdly, machines make predictions, execute them, measure the results and then change the inputs and constraints to optimize the output goal.

Fourthly, machines achieve automation. They are becoming motivated cognitive agents and are able to use their various learned behaviours to create new transferable knowledge.

Most (old-economy) companies are at stage one or below. They know they have data and start collecting it.

Many digital companies (ecommerce, mobile, gaming) work with their data and are often on stage two.

Google, Amazon, Facebook & Co are leading the applied AI fields. Some parts of their companies are on stage three.

Stage four will come. Some brilliant teams are working on it.

You have to train an Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence systems have to be trained. It’s no longer a case of programming them and thinking they’re finished. An AI is never finished. There is always more it can learn, get better at, improve and ultimately deepen its knowledge.

Modern AI is like a child. You have to teach the AI everything: how to understand text, how to watch videos, how to listen to audio or how to generate language.

Some fields are easier to learn, like computer vision. Other tasks are much harder, such as understanding text.

Artificial Intelligence is eating your business

The new wave of AIs, often implemented by digital companies and start-ups, will eat many smaller businesses for breakfast. AI is a horizontal technology. It is impacting many industries (logistics, automotive, pharmaceutical, insurances, media, manufacturing, retail), systems (networks, cities, states), companies and humans.

In general, AI achieves two things. It makes processes more efficient and it makes stupid machines smarter. A self-driving car is smarter than a human-driven car. Using the Google search algorithm is more efficient than going to the library.

A future with less human work

However, this leads to several challenges.

One challenge is that applied AIs will drive companies out of business, force political change and force individual humans to adapt.

The other challenge is that millions of tasks will be done by machines. New jobs will be created (e.g. machine trainers), and there will be less demand for human labour. Why? Because that is why we invent machines in the first place (watch my TEDx talk to learn more or read 22 jobs disappearing in future); so that they work for us.

Artificial Intelligence is neither evil nor bad. It is a tool we use to generate more wealth, more happiness and more health for humans on earth. But change is never comfortable. AI forces the human species to leave their current comfort zone.

AIs brute force experiences

So what else can we expect? AI systems are already developing their own languages and encryption methods. Other AIs are able to generate images and videos. There are plenty of exciting things coming to the market over the coming years.

We can assume that some technical problems will be overcome: unclean data, unstructured data, limited access to data and biased data.

Furthermore, machines struggle with high degrees of abstraction during their learning phases. Humans today still learn more efficiently than machines. To achieve similar levels of intelligence, we have to train machines with significantly more data. Google’s AlphaGo was only able to beat the human world champion at Go because the AI system practised by playing millions of games. Since AIs can learn faster and in parallel, they brute-force experiences.

Another academic challenge is to build cognitive systems which can generate transferrable knowledge. This means combining different modules of an (artificial) brain.

AI is good for humankind

Sure, there is more: AI-assisted teaching, the jobless future, income equality, personalized medicine, self-moving objects, personal assistants for everyone.

The wide application of Artificial Intelligence will lead to prosperity, lower energy costs, more mobility, free education, longer and healthier lives and increased luxury.

Currently, AI is a bit overhyped because Hollywood, Techcrunch and Journalists find it easier to write about AI than other topics. Nevertheless, the underlying trends are strong. AI won’t go away. We should look forward to and embrace it.

If you would like to have a full day of great insights into Artificial Intelligence, then join our conference Rise of AI May 2017 in Berlin. If you just like to talk, ping me via twitter. If you look for capital, then check out Asgard – human VC for AI.

7 reasons you should join us for Rise of AI 2017 – Artificial Intelligence conference in Berlin

Rise of AI is one full day to learn about the status of Artificial Intelligence, think about the future and discuss its implication for society. 7 reasons why you should join too.

Europe’s most exciting conference for Artificial Intelligence

We started small. First 20 people at cbase speaking about “Did Singularity already happen?“. Then 100 futurists met at hub:raum and spoke about “Rise of AI – The Singularity might be closer than you think“. Half a year later, 170 forward-thinkers came together at Betahaus for “Rise of AI – Human coexistence with Machines“.

Now we are hosting the third time Rise of AI ( for 350 guests. We organize an exciting, intellectual, inspiring and unique event about Artificial Intelligence here at Berlin. We invite the greatest minds to the Deutsches Technikmuseum to discuss, talk, network and understand.

7 reasons why you should come to Rise of AI

#1 Artificial Intelligence is critical

Currently everyone talks about AIs. But what are AIs? Elon Musks warns us, as well as Hawking and Gates. Do you understand what AIs can do today? Have you thought about the progress of AIs the next years? You should. It could be the last invention of human kind.

#2 Superhealth. Superhappiness. Superwealth.

Artificial Intelligence has influence on your health, your wealth, your personal happiness, your free time and your job. Are you only an observer and watch it rolling over? Or do you want to be active and influence the change!

#3 Strong content

We have invited really amazing speakers. Prof. von der Malsburg hat 50 years of AI experiences. William Hertling writes crazy-creative books about AI conquering the world (12 books you should read to prepare for Singularity). Dr. Trent McConaghy combines AI + blockchains and believes machines take over the world. Prof. Danko Nikolic is a brain researcher and does not agree with Trent. Joel will moderate the day. And even some members of the German Bundestag have signed up.

#4 Interactive program

Keynotes can be great, but knowledge goes only one way. Therefore we have organize AI-Topic-Leaders. These are small workshops, where you can discuss more current topics with experts. Accelerated Dynamics will show us some autonomous drones and AI-startups will give us demos of their products.

#5 Meet the speakers and network

I don’t like it, when after a talk the speaker disappears. Therefore our speakers will be at their tables and open for a more personal Q&A sessions. Use this opportunity to meet them.

Additional networking is key for us. There is plenty of time and reason to meet new people, learn, exchange ideas and make contacts.

#6 We have a mission

We (my wife and I) organize Rise of AI, because we have a mission. We want to educate about Artificial Intelligence. We wish, that AIs will help us humans to conquer the galaxy one day. AIs will make our lives better, longer and more convenient. Additional there are challenges and risks (from jobless future to superintelligence). We need to address them before it is too late. Therefore Rise of AI is a platform for interested people to meet, discuss and learn.

#7 Historical location to talk about the future

Where else do you want to talk about the future? The Deutsche Technikmuseum Berlin is a historical location, where the past meets the future. You can see the first computer (Z1 by Zuse) and other great inventions of human kind.

Deutsches Technikmuseum

Do you need more reasons? Then check out our speakers and our program.

Have a look at Rise of AI for the most recent program, workshops, companies and early bird tickets.

Rise of AI 2016 – Videos & Summaries

25/02/2016 we were host to Rise of AI – the Singularity might be closer than you think. It was a great evening with 100 invited guests from various fields: researchers, investors, thinkers, corporates, journalists and developers.

It was a pleasure to meet old friends and new faces. For everyone not able to attend, we have recorded the evening.

Introduction by Fabian Westerheide

What is the Singularity for you?
Why do we humans invent machines, which shall replace us?
What do we do, if we have nothing to do?

Ronnie Vuine – Intelligence Automation

It is hard to talk about singularity, if you can’t see it. For the last 300 years humans are riding the exponentiell curve of techno capital. Intelligences are necessary to manage complex system. Therefore technocapital leads to perfect intelligence automation.

Prof. Dr. Danko Nikolic – AI-Kindergarten

Danko is a brain scientists, who started to work on AI. He claims, that humans will not achieve human-like artificial intelligence near term, since we lack 9 billion years of evolutionary learnings.

Ehssan Dariani

Ehssan talks about social and economical impact of AI. He says, that change takes time and we need patience. In 20 years, the bottom 99 % will live like the top 1 % of today. Therefore billionaires need to pay more taxes, the unconditional basic income should be introduced and drugs will be legalized.

Jan Klauck

Jan speaks about integrating AI into society.

Panel discussion

Samim Winiger and the speakers talk about:

Do we need to understand the nature of intelligence to build AGI?
How will the world look like in 50 years?
How does technology influence policies?
What are the implications of the slowdown of Moore’s law?
What are the consequences of increasing automation for human jobs?

12 book reading list to prepare for the future until Singularity

We should never stop learning. Books are a great way to learn. It can be facts or fiction. Sometimes both are hard to keep apart.

Technology fells like magic

Following 12 books I recommend to read:


Charles Stross – Accelerando

Fiction, however very interesting and a soft entrance into the topic singularity

William Hertling – Avogadro Corp: The Singularity is closer than it appears

I love his books. Read part 1 and 2 during one night session. In total 4 interesting books to read. They have more facts and less fiction than you might think.

Ray Kurzweil – The Singularity is near

Ray Kurzweil is a strong promotor of the singularity. His books should be read.

Nick Bostrom – Superintelligence

A-must-read if you are into Artificial Intelligence.

Dave Eggers – The Circle

When Facebook and Google merge. By the way, the new book “Killswitch” by William Hertling is even more extrem than “The Circle”. Check it out too.

Kotler & Diamandis – Abundance

Something to look forward to.

Peter Thiel – Zero to One

The digital world is Zero or One.

McAfee & Brynjolfsson – Second Machine Age

Similar to Kurzweil’s books, the Second Machine Age gives a good understanding of the fundamentals of singularity.

Thomas Piketty – capital in the twenty-first century

Technology creates wealth.

Federico Pistono – Robots will steal your job

Machines are modern slaves.

William Gibson – Neuromancer

Nostalgic and visionary.

Zoltan Istvan – The Transhumanist Wager

Not sure if this is fiction or a warning.

Georg Orwell – 1984

I often fear that parts of this book became true.

Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

And this book got something right about the future too.


We update our favorite reading list from time to time. Therefore will be more than 12 books.

25 future movies to watch to prepare for singularity

Movies are the vision someone has of the future. They are like books (12 books to read), but we see what the maker wants us to see.

Following movies I think a worth watching. I have seen of them, some of them more than once. Every movie has a message for us. Every movie lets you think about the future.

The movies discuss the consequences of artificial intelligence, robotics, virtualization, genetics, uploading, time travel, multi-dimensions and space conquest. They challenge us to define, how much control belongs to the state, how we treat the poor and the rich, what system of ruling we accept.

These movies I recommend for everyone loving to think how the future might be.

Wall E

Fun way to start to think about the future for humans. Are machines our slaves?

Ender’s Game

Strategic, some Action

I, Robot

Action, be aware that by 2030 there will be 1 robot on earth for every human.


Action, think about facebook and oculus rift

Tron Legacy

Just beautiful and nostalgic

Black Mirror

Great mini series of BBC, asks some good questions how society changes with technologies.


Action, like Call of Duty with virtual reality


Great movie, will genetic engineering divide or unite human society?


Action, too much dystopia. However Elysium itself looks great.


Our way to compete agains other intelligences

Ex Machina

Watch it, if you want to know, if a machine should be like a human. Artificial Intelligence and its implications. Sweet ending.


Mind changing movie.

Blade Runner

Old. However should be on your list.


Time Travel + Action

12 Monkeys

More Time Travel + Action + old


What is the fourth dimension?


Creepy movie, a must-have to watch. Is Artificial Intelligence our friend or enemy?

Minority Report

That stuff is real. Police can prevent crimes before they happen trough big data predictions. And nobody cares.

Tributes of Panem

Don’t mind the games, but observe the three class system of societies.


Quiet movie. What happens if you fall in love with an artificial intelligence?


Thought about uploading before?

Aeon Flux

Artistic action


Where are we humans coming from?

Starship Trooper

We fight.


I don’t know why. I have seen it over and over.


The best series of my youth. I have named Asgard after it.

Star Trek

Humans are explorers.

Star Wars

Humans are conquerers.


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