Google Brain Co-founder launches AI fund


The fund will support companies focussed on AI and will make it easier for entrepreneurs to pitch ideas rather than go to general investors

Andrew Ng, who was formerly a part of Google’s AI projects, has launched a $175 million fund to support artificial intelligence startups. His first investment will be in his startup whose AI engine can detect defects in products. Andrew has raised money from Sequoia, New Enterprise Associates, Greylock Partners, and SoftBank.

Andrew, who was also the Chief Scientist at Chinese internet company Baidu, announced that AI can take away a lot of repeat jobs and make it easier for mankind to predict outcomes. His company will use money from his fund and is working with a Chinese manufacturer to find defects in the hardware and make factories more efficient.

The AI engine will sit in an assembly line and allow workers to make better decisions about the hardware. It uses computer vision to find defects in electronic products such as laptops, chipsets, and handsets. Every factory prides itself on a low reject rate to parts per million. So, anything under 100 is great, and with AI – in a mass production line – this rate can come down to nil per million.

In, workers put a circuit board beneath a digital camera connected to a computer and the computer identifies any defects.

So, does India need investments in AI? “The fear that AI will take away jobs is wrong. No one wants to answer how they can reskill people to go beyond mundane jobs,” says Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS.

Embibe, SigTuple, Netradyne and Bezirk are some of the companies that have invested in AI in India and are testifying that Indians too can build AI-based systems in education, healthcare, automotive, and retail scenarios. However, only Karnataka government’s Centre for Excellence for AI, supports industry and startup partnership to accelerate AI-based projects.

“Industry must drive AI, the government can only set up infrastructure and support them to push AI as a business and to make Karnataka lead the global technology revolution,” says Priyank Kharge, IT Minister of Karnataka.

It is about time a dedicated AI fund also gets launched in India.