You are sitting at your work’s desk. There is a client’s invoice to process.
All seemed to work as usual. You are set for your routinely job tasks.
You are almost done with processing that invoice when your computer breaks down!
Ok no problem, you think, I am going to write this invoice and eventually give it to the accountant.
Good. You fill all the fields required by the same form you have been filling for years until you get to the bottom line.
There is a problem, though. The invoice you are processing is made of a set of services you performed for your client, which requires a simple arithmetic formula.
In fact, you have a line on your form that says, “consulting services = $1,527” and a subsequent line that states “add 20% as tax.“
Ok, you think, I should be able to perform this simple arithmetic calculation on my own.
The problem is in the last years you had delegated that same task to your excel spreadsheet that you always kept open in front of you. But now it wasn’t available.
What to do then? Simple, you grab an old calculator that you have in your desk’s drawer and finally perform that simple arithmetic operation.
Although, you have a high esteem of yourself, when it comes to arithmetic, a calculator, a device that you would never define as smart, it is way smarter and faster that you could ever be.
Yet the form of intelligence in that calculator is extremely narrow and specific. In other words, thinking about that calculator can teach you a new way of thinking, which is about the different forms of intelligence that exist.
The Era of Cognifying
In his TED Talk of 2016, Kevin Kelly went further and identified some of those macro-trends. One of the most striking ones is cognifying or putting minds within the objects that have been part of our daily lives for centuries, and making them smarter and smarter.
As Kelly puts it,
So your calculator is smarter than you are in arithmetic already; your GPS is smarter than you are in spatial navigation; Google, Bing, are smarter than you are in long-term memory. And we’re going to take, again, these kinds of different types of thinking and we’ll put them into, like, a car. The reason why we want to put them in a car so the car drives, is because it’s not driving like a human. It’s not thinking like us. That’s the whole feature of it. It’s not being distracted, it’s not worrying about whether it left the stove on, or whether it should have majored in finance. It’s just driving.
That makes us think differently also about our role as humans. In fact, rather than fighting back against the takeover of AI when it comes to tasks that we are neither good at nor willing to do, we should instead embrace it!
Therefore, the next business opportunity may be way closer and simpler than you think. It may be about adding AI to an object you have been using your entire life but never really thought of making it smarter.
In fact, as Kelly explained in the same TED, the first industrial revolution started when we began to electrify anything that surrounded us. Instead, according to Kelly the second industrial revolution already started. As he put it,
The formula for the next 10,000 start-ups is very, very simple, which is to take x and add AI
But if that is so simple, how can you begin to take advantage of that?
How to Use Kelly’s Equation (Business = X + AI)
The greatest mistake that most wannabe entrepreneurs make when trying to start a business is about thinking too complexly. The truth is that the next genial business idea may be there, but you lacked the courage to see it, just because it looked too simple to be true.
Take a pen. What is cool about it? Not much. Yet you take that pen, put some form of AI into it, and you get as a result a smart pen.
Take a bag. Who would start a business based on that? I guess none. Yet take that same bag, have it interact with your devices, and you get a smart bag.
Take a shoe. We wear them since thousands of years. Unless you don’t want to compete against Prada, there is no particular reason for starting a shoe business. Yet grab that shoe, add some AI to it, and you get the smart shoes, with automatic tightening!
What’s the point?
You may have had your next potential business in front of you all along but never managed to notice it. You may want to start asking yourself,
“What is the most trivial object I have been using throughout my life?”
Take that, add some form of AI and you have a business!