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Innovation Blog

Guest Post: Overcoming Negative Sentiment Towards AI-Based Innovation


At Bonsai, the innovation that interests us most is applying artificial intelligence to personalize a mobile app experience and to facilitate discovery - the discovery of new things, learning opportunities, personal improvement and growth.

Personalization requires tracking. Essentially, a machine is watching, recording, and responding to your every activity. All of these data points are collected, analyzed, and fed into algorithms. On top of that, the machines need to learn more about you. So, it tests you. It sees how you react to stimuli outside your usual behaviour patterns. Again, all of this is being recorded.

Creepy? Without understanding the larger picture, I suppose it could be.

AI has the potential to change things for the better. It can eliminate human mistakes; it can complete menial tasks; it can solve complex problems in healthcare and science; it can accurately predict behaviours and outcomes.

For a moment, let’s take a look at the other side of AI, the things that some consider malevolent. AI that reduces reliance on humans is often seen as taking away their livelihood. The behaviour tracking and data collection is sometimes considered a violation of privacy and a security risk. Indeed, machines aren’t compassionate and algorithms aren’t kind.

So, how do we, as innovators in AI, walk this fine line between good and bad. I believe that the answer is twofold. First, AI-driven solutions must include a real exchange of value. Second, and closely related to the first, AI driven solutions must share the benefits.

Shopping malls and departments stores, so maligned these days, used to offer a good exchange of value. Visitors were offered a place to go, to been seen, to meet, to spend free time. In exchange, stores received a predictable and steady flow of customers. E-commerce has changed the landscape significantly. However, e-commerce, particularly the sites and apps that claim to have AI and the sites that track behaviours by collecting data, still do not offer a sufficient exchange of value. Typically, we see e-commerce operations competing on price - a discounting race to the bottom - which is a difficult way to run a business.

Bonsai believes that AI can be used to present the user with a personalized, meaningful opportunity to engage with compelling content. Along with that, we use AI to encourage personal growth and learning. This, we believe, is a good exchange of value.

Another approach to overcome negative sentiment towards AI is to share the benefits that AI brings. The Bonsai business model is built upon this philosophy. Users are presented with captivating content, tailored precisely for them. Merchants display their products at the right time to an engaged, motivated audience. Publishers receive an additional distribution channel and a share of the revenue. Of course, this example applies to our line of business. The point being, when there’s a true exchange of value and when the benefits are shared, AI-based innovation isn’t evil.

To learn more, please join my team at the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Awards on October 24.

Thank you,
Saad Siddiqui
CEO and Founder, Bonsai

Join Us (On the Ground or via Live Stream) at the 2018 Manning Innovation Symposium & Pitch Competition

The 2018 Symposium, supported by Imperial, our Knowledge Sharing Partner, will highlight the 2018 Manning Innovation Award winners and three emerging innovators from the University of Toronto. Whether you're currently steering through the innovative process yourself, or are simply interested in gaining valuable insights and advice, the Innovation Symposium will leave you inspired to persevere beyond challenges and get into action!

If you'd like to attend in person or via live stream, please RSVP at https://bit.ly/2DD70jj.

Attend the 37th Manning Innovation Awards Dinner

The 2018 Manning Awards will be presented on October 24 at a prestigious awards dinner at the Scotiabank Centre in downtown Toronto, attended by past Laureates, Canadian innovators, and their supporters – all known for their innovation excellence. Are you ready to meet Canada's most outstanding innovators? Get your tickets before they are gone!

Tickets: https://conventionall.swoogo.com/ecmia2018

Jennifer Diakiw | President

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