The top 100 AI startups of 2017 have raised $11.7 billion in aggregate funding across 367 deals.
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The widespread disruption of AI is summed up best by Andrew Ng, the former chief scientist of Baidu, who views AI as the new electricity: “Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years.”
While most large corporations are undergoing technological transformations to use, support or offer AI technologies, the real magic takes place in the AI startup arena. According to CB Insights, the top 100 AI startups of 2017 have raised $11.7 billion in aggregate funding across 367 deals, thereby making the market rich with innovations plus financial backings.
The most surprising AI startups and applications are those that are paving the way towards more unconventional verticals, such as insurance, background checks, real estate, health and retail. The unique application of AI in areas that aren’t traditionally high-tech is particularly fascinating for multiple reasons. For instance, it proves that with AI, all industries can be enhanced for greater efficiency and streamlined processes. When AI takes over time-consuming and tedious jobs, human counterparts are given more time for impactful contributions with greater value and tacit knowledge. Although many may argue that AI removes the human touch, it’s also important to bear in mind that it drives strategic and creative thinking at a larger scale.
Here are four industries being disrupted by AI:
Insurance companies and their leaders have a lot to deal with lately, as reported by Deloitte’s latest market research report called Fintech by the numbers. As reported by Deloitte, “Political and regulatory upheavals around the world are changing some of the ground rules about how carriers are allowed to operate. An accelerating evolution in the way business is conducted is being driven by innovation and higher customer expectations, while disruptive newcomers are looking to take market share from incumbent insurers in the insurance industry.”
Upheaval and changes create opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs, which is exactly what Lemonade is capitalizing on. Without relying on legacy players in the space, Lemonade blends insurance with tech and digitally transforms the user experience by appealing to consumers of all ages, removing costs and expediting claims. The data that is gathered helps drive efficiency and quantify risks.
In December 2016, Lemonade set the world record for settling a claim in three seconds using its AI-powered claims bot, which ran 18 fraud algorithms simultaneously. Its technology understands the nature, severity and urgency of most claims. If any claim is too complex, it gets handed over to human counterparts for further manual analysis.
2. Background checks
As President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda continues to be debated and laws are modified, employers need to keep a close watch on the reaction of the states to the administration’s federal employment law decisions. Changes made at federal regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) result in new business laws that can affect taxes and hiring practices.
State and local legislation will continue to be big issues in screening in the next year. In 2017, there was an increase in legislation that bans asking for salary history in cities and states across the country. There will be more of these laws introduced in cities, municipalities and states in the next year. Ban the box laws have been sweeping the country for the last few years. The newest ban the box law went into effect in California on Jan. 1, 2018. The California law, which involves both the public and private sectors, states that employers cannot make a criminal history inquiry until after a conditional offer has been made to an applicant. State and city ban the box legislation will continue to pass in the new year.
Thanks to the above, the background industry has seen a spur in innovation and growth. Intelligo is leveraging AI and machine learning to conduct background checks on people and companies in just minutes. This reduces the wait time and frustrations that are traditionally associated with the backlogs of federal agencies and large financial corporations that rely on human analysts to manually conduct granular research across multiple mediums.
Their solution quickly combs through thousands of data sources without concern of manual labor and offers a user-friendly interactive report, which presents actionable insights in a manner that is insightful yet easy to understand.
3. Real estate
In 2017, real estate accounted for about 13.4 percent, or $2.6 trillion, of U.S. GDP, as reported by BEA.gov. That’s more than any other industry, including manufacturing at $2.2 trillion. Real estate, as a whole, covers a number of market segments, including commercial industries such as construction and rentals to residential with consumer housing. Real estate construction alone contributed more than $1 trillion to the economy last year, while apartment rental properties are worth north of $1.4 trillion.
The real estate industry provides a huge market for opportunity. An example of AI in this space is from Compass, a startup that uses AI to connect potential homebuyers and renters with properties that best meet their needs. Though it is safe to say that there are multiple websites that offer a similar service, Compass perfected the art by breaking the mold and standing out. According to a representative of SoftBank Vision Fund, which invested $450 million in Compass, it is well positioned for future growth for building a “differentiated end-to-end tech platform that aggregates across diverse data streams to support agents and homebuyers through the entire process.”
In an age where many claim that we are experiencing the retail apocalypse, Inturn proves that is not the case at all. If anything, we are only experiencing the latest shift in retail trends. According to Business Insider, by 2021 most retailers will invest in AI and IoT technologies for supply chain automation, location-based marketing, customer traffic sensors, machine learning, asset tracking and big data solutions. Inturn uses AI to empower brands and retailers to use automated workflow tools, a pricing optimization engine and business intelligence to gain visibility of their business and simplify the buying and selling of excess inventory.
Related: Preparing for the Future of AI
As fascinating as these technological breakthroughs may be, it’s important to note that contrary to popular belief and Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters, AI is not set to take over jobs, or the world for that matter. AI exists to work alongside human counterparts for increased efficiency, so people can apply their skill sets towards more meaningful tasks without getting overwhelmed. Or, maybe AI will take over and rule the world, and make humans their working slaves (like when the FB chatbots started talking to themselves).
Whatever the case, AI will continue to impact industries in the future, and it’s important for large institutions, decision-makers and enthusiasts to keep tabs on startups that are disrupting industries with AI so that they can stay ahead of the curve. And, potentially, stay ahead of the AI that will one day rule them in more ways than one.