When you think of business in LA, artificial intelligence isn’t likely to come to mind. But it turns out a number of leading entrepreneurs and academics have made the City of Angels an epicenter of AI.
Some of those leading minds came together recently for Applied AI, an event hosted by LA-based startup Deep Current.

The gathering drew several hundred to the company’s headquarters to hear from and visit with Steven Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President overseeing Microsoft’s AI business; Joel Luxenberg, CEO and founder of Deep Current, and Prem Natarajan, Vice Dean of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.
Before the event, the trio were joined by veteran tech writer Jonathan Shieber for an enlightening conversation with Microsoft US/Canada startups leader Jim Brisimitzis for a special edition of Series A – The Podcast.

Professor Natarajan detailed LA’s rich past with artificial intelligence, machine learning and the like dating all the way back to the late 40’s, and helped provide context about the myths and realities of AI as it gains popularity and visibility.

Shieber provided an interesting perspective on the wealth of tech talent across Southern California transcending far more than just the entertainment industry, from LA’s rich history with everything from aviation to fashion.

“The fact of the matter is that there is a lot to explore and a lot of rich veins to mine for entrepreneurs and investors that are looking at the Los Angeles ecosystem for growth and returns,” Shieber says.
Guggenheimer outlined Microsoft’s vision for AI and the company’s history dating back more than 25 years in advanced research. But as with the others, he spoke of the reality and practical applications, and where the company sees technology going.

“One of the areas that you’re getting to have a platform layer that’s unique is in AI. So it sits above the cloud or the edge and it gives you unique capabilities, be it cognative services, or conversational user experiences and so that’s an area of focus,” Guggenheimer says.

“My own view is that if you do a good job with AI, people don’t know it’s AI. The products just work better.”

For Luxenberg, he sees the need to leverage AI and other technologies to solve real business problems and bridge the gap between humans and machines to deliver real value today to enterprises, rather than some utopian vision of the future.

“Deep Current is an engineering organization,” he says. “We’re coming in really tactfully looking at how we can solve problems using machine learning technologies is really important because there’s a lot of buzz around automation right now. every single industry, every single business leader wants to do this. And yet the automation solutions that exist can never get past the 70-80% marker because they’re not augmenting processes.”

Join Joel, Guggs, Prem, Jonathan, Jim and producer/correspondent Josh Kerns for a fascinating look at Applied AI and the tech scene in LA in the latest edition of Series A-The Podcast, available now.

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