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How a small company can take on the business giants

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Artificial intelligence (AI) was once the preserve of science fiction films. Not any more. We are starting to see AI enter the mainstream of business. 

The Hello Barbie doll on sale over Christmas uses AI to chat to children. A WiFi connection allows the ‘brain’ of the AI to be harnessed despite being located thousands of miles away. Medical diagnoses are being carried out by IBM’s AI engine Watson. And users of Salesforce.com will soon notice an AI engine called Einstein added to the list of services.
It’s a fast-growing field, and who is to say which participants will come out on top? Justin Donne and Haydn Bowley are FSB members attempting to create their own AI engine from scratch. “We want it to be helpful, useful and benevolent,” says Justin (left). “We are not trying to replicated Skynet [from the Terminator films] and exterminate mankind.”

So far, the pair are experimenting with prototypes. “Our advantage is that we are small and simple, and not burdened with the complexity of a large organisation,” says Justin. “It means we can be creative and innovative, not stuck with fixed thoughts, unlike big companies that are under pressure from their shareholders.”

The goal is to produce a self-learning mechanism, which can be used for services such as matching candidates on dating websites or optimising websites of utility companies. The company Bowley Donne still faces opposition from Apple and Google, but remember – those companies also started out as two people in a garage.