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February 15, 2019

Building the Future of AI: Meet Clarifai’s Head of Product

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The impact artificial intelligence is having and will have on our world is massive. Here at Clarifai, our goal is to accelerate the progress of humanity with continually improving AI. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to introduce Meng (JJ) Jiang, our Head of Product, who will be leading our product team as we continue toward this mission. In this post, meet JJ and discover his insights on AI today and its future.

Before coming to Clarifai, JJ previously led AWS' expansion into China, and later moved to Hong Kong to co-found a data analytics startup. Eventually, JJ re-joined Amazon in NYC as its Head of Asia for its fashion subsidiary Shopbop to learn more about e-commerce before moving back to Seattle to join the Alexa team. He has also worked at Intel in California and spent some time as Entrepreneur in Residence at venture capital firms.

Why are you passionate about building the future of AI?

JJ: I have focused my career on broadening people’s access to knowledge and resources. I have always thought of AI as the OS of information that will bring or enable a new level of automation like we've never seen before. This is as big as the industrial revolution was and a very exciting place to be.   

What about this brought you to Clarifai?

JJ: Throughout history, makers have been working on giving birth to an artificial “child.” We invented the generator, which is the heart that pumps blood throughout its system. We invented electrical wires, which are the veins that allow blood to flow. We invented cameras and other sensors, which are its eyes and ears. We invented the internet, which are the neural networks that allow information to flow. We invented cloud computing, which provides its memory and information processing capabilities. What we are doing here at Clarifai is to provide intelligence to this child. We are putting on the final touches of what other makers have been working on for generations. We are making history here.

I was first introduced to Clarifai by a very good friend of mine at NVIDIA. He knew that I was looking at getting back into startups and strongly recommended that I look up Clarifai. I was then immediately drawn to Matt's story. There was this incredibly smart guy that won top 5 spots at ImageNet. Every large tech company wanted to recruit him, but he goes out to create this startup with some of the best venture capitalists as financial backers. I then came in and met some of the team, and was impressed by how smart everyone was. I love being surrounded by passionate and intelligent people trying to making an impact, so this felt like the right place for me to be.

Despite being excited for all that AI can bring, there are still hurdles to overcome. What do you see as the biggest challenges AI technology will come up against?

It always takes time for people to embrace changes. At our core, humans tend to have this inertia to changes that prompts us to reject new things. I think that has been the case for every generation of technology, from telephone to internet to cloud computing. The same is true for AI. So it will take some time for the market to fully understand and accept AI.

Fortunately, there are a number of large tech companies, as well as many startups, that are now in the market. Together, we will introduce this technology and all its amazing benefits to the customers. It will take time to educate the market, but I think we are at an inflection point where adaption will rapidly ramp up in the near future.


Lastly, when you look forward at the next year or so, what do you think the biggest trend is in the world of AI?

AI is increasingly moving to the edge, so there will be a convergence of internet of things (IoT) devices and AI technology. However, I don't think this is that much of an AI trend but rather AI catching up to computing trends and customer needs. Edge computing has been happening for quite some time now, and customer adoption is also increasing for AI. Now there are enough IoT devices out there and enough computation power on the edge, so AI on the edge is the natural next step.

On the opposite spectrum, I think a lot of the relatively less tech-savvy sectors are also starting to deploy AI technology, such as manufacturing and retail, in the form of smart security and digital insights. This shows that our society as a whole is starting to embrace AI technology.

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