Democratising AI
Imagine trying to compete today without access to the Internet. Now imagine competing tomorrow without access to artificial intelligence (AI). We are democratising access to AI so that you don’t have to — Agorai

Agorai hopes to build a platform that makes affordable AI available to all.

Taking its name from the ancient Greek word Agora, which referred to a central public space in Greek city-states, Agorai’s vision is to democratise artificial intelligence by providing it on a platform on a cost effective basis for everyone to use.

Cryptonewsasia caught up with Kamil Mehmood of Agorai on the sidelines of Token2049. The discussion of Agorai’s ambitions were all the more relevant in light of the controversy surrounding data privacy and companies like Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

The tech giants of today, that also include the likes of Amazon, Google, Tencent and Microsoft — have tons of data, are mining it for profit and crucially also have the lion’s share of AI technologies. Kamil posed this question to us: “If AI is going to have a profound impact on humanity, would you rather that the technology be in the hands of a few powerful corporations or would you rather it belong to the community?”. Clearly, we would like to see the latter materialising. And this is how Agorai aims to make a difference.

Excerpts from the interview with Kamil:

Kamil Mehmood speaking about Agorai’s AI platform at the recent launch event of CryptoNewsAsia in Hong Kong.

What is the problem that Agorai is trying to solve?

Access to AI is crucial to companies’ survival. Imagine if you or your company did not have access to the Internet today. How would you be able to function, let alone compete. In two to five years time, you are going to find yourself in a similar disadvantage if you do not have access to affordable AI. This applies to individuals, start-ups, SMEs and large corporations alike.

But here’s the problem — today’s best AI technologies are expensive and sit in the hands of a few organisations. Think Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Tencent, among others. Another problem is that data today sits in silos. The same giants have been able to amass copious amounts of data and have been able to train their AI on that data. Unless you are able to create a similar infrastructure where both AI and big data is readily available on affordable terms you cannot solve this problem.

We believe we have a solution. As a start, we have partnered with some up and coming AI tech providers. Each specialises in different aspects of AI, which will be available on our platform to anyone on affordable terms. Alongside this, we are building partnerships with bespoke data companies. AI without data is useless, as you have nothing to train the AI with and vice versa. Both must co-exist in the same place to create economic value.

Why would data providers want to partner with AGORAI?

Here’s a basic example. Telco’s today have a lot of data about its customers behaviours. That data is not extensively analysed but value can be unlocked for the telco. One reason is of data protection laws and rightly so. However we are in discussions with telco’s to explore ways where the data isn’t handed to us but enables our AI to enter the telco’s database, securely and purely for learning purposes and in an anonymous way. We think this is a way telco’s can monetise and unlock this asset, without having any implications to data privacy laws. This would give these firms additional revenue that they could use for new growth opportunities, effectively creating a new asset on their balance sheet. Besides telco’s there are other companies who would look into these relationships as a means to unlock value in their assets.

Most of the valuable data today sits in the hands of the Internet giants. Will you be able to get data as good as they have?

One way we hope to solve this is by partnering with bespoke data companies, which already have agreements with the large Internet giants. (These large players do sell the data in one shape or form.) And aside from the Internet giants, there are other large companies who sell their data to these bespoke companies. Perhaps the most important change we seek to drive is using our marketplaces to allow people to be paid for the data that they create. New laws are being put in place (starting in Europe) which state that the data held by the Internet giants are no longer for the free use of those companies but rather belong to the users themselves. Once this regulation comes in, we see it as a huge opportunity for us — to propose to users to sell their data through our marketplace for an economic value because that data belongs to them.

This leads us back to our vision of seeking to democratise AI. If AI is going to have a profound impact on humanity, would you rather this technology belong in the hands of a corporate or would you rather it belong to the community? We are building a community where the collective AI will be seeded by the people, further enhanced and developed by the people and for the benefit of people. This is how we think our token ecosystem will be sustainable.

Can you update us on your token sale programme?

We are currently in the presale phase of our token sale programme. Early investors are receiving discounted pricing on our tokens. Our public token sale is schedule to happen in the next couple of months. People who are interested in learning more about our presale can register to invest on our website at www.Agorai.ai.

Leon Dean