Artificial Intelligence Impact on Entrepreneurship and the AI Literacy Imperitive.

AI literacy will be the essential skill for K-12 students. To understand, conceptualize, to be empowered and inspired to create.

How will entrepreneurial ideas and startups thrive in a future state driven by the intense use of artificial intelligence and machine learning? From self-driving cars to SIRI, artificial intelligence (AI) is progressing rapidly. There’s been much talk about how artificial intelligence will continue to disrupt every occupation from taxi drivers, finance, medicine, yet little focus on risk and opportunities to entrepreneurship. To many people today see these technologies are magic black boxes.

Many of the leading companies innovating and investing in the artificial intelligence space (Amazon, Google, Facebook) began as small garage startups with passion and an idea. Many driven by the excitement of doing something that’s never been done before. The capacity of America to innovate has long been a competitive advantage. When I started my first Internet business in 1997 as a sophomore at Michigan State University, dial-up was still the way people connected to the Internet. My marketing business didn’t require angel investors, just a computer, and an Internet connection. Millions of digital businesses started this same way and were able to thrive. Technology evolved quickly and with it improved service delivery, higher customer expectations, and a steeper technology learning curve. A simple e-commerce website from the early 2000’s is now superseded by highly intelligent recommendations engines, algorithmic fraud detection, automated fulfillment, and self-improving product placement that evolve beyond our ability to understand.

One can think of artificial intelligence as both an enabler and as a new obstacle to entrepreneurship.

The Industrial Revolution was when humans overcame the limitations of our muscle power. We’re now in the early stages of doing the same thing to our mental capacity—scaling instantly, digitally.

It’s not a far stretch to assume within the next ten years as waves of traditional careers are being replaced; most viable business models will rely upon and likely be built around artificial intelligence. The technology learning curve will be even steeper. In order to innovate, entrepreneurs need to understand and conceptualize how artificial intelligence works and how it can be applied in new ways.

As an enabler for innovation, entrepreneurs can now leverage cloud compute, storage as well as modern machine learning as a service on demand with pre-trained machine learning models. These services help democratize access to what ten years ago would have been cost prohibitive and required a dedicated data scientist. As companies continue to integrate machine learning into their businesses there will be inherent benefits to new startups. Smarter CRM tools like SalesForce and Hubspot help drive sales, marketing automation, and customer service. These and other platforms will continue to add value to historic and emerging data, help optimize business timing, maximize resources and minimize waste with well-informed decisions.

At present K-12 education and undergraduate curriculum don’t cover the how and why of the AI technology that exists all around us and we’re lucky if they provide education about entrepreneurship. Hollywood portrays AI as the technology that will eventually take control of humanity and destroy the world. Talking to SIRI, Netflix recommendations, smartphones or hailing an Uber are all taken for granted yet there is hidden genius enabling it all. On the surface, it may seem overwhelmingly complex to even explain, yet AI should be viewed as a tool and a prerequisite skill. In the same way, learning to read was an essential skill of the 1920’s, so will understanding and working to deploy artificial intelligence in the 2020’s.

A future entrepreneur born today will graduate from college in 2039. The pace of advancement in technology and artificial intelligence will scale exponentially and in order to innovate with it, future entrepreneurs must understand it. AI literacy should become a standard part of the curriculum to fuel the entrepreneurial minds of tomorrow. With faster adoption curves and the historically slow pace of change in education, now is the time to act, before too many traditional career paths vanish.

Read more articles by Ryan Vartoogian on business and technology innovation.

Digital Marketing > Futurist > Artificial Intelligence > Business Strategy