The Future of AI Startups: Explainability Is Your Competitive Edge

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Generative AI applications extend from physiotherapists using text-to-video tools demonstrating patient recovery exercises to coding Q&As that decrease network language complexity. These pre-trained ML solutions, which previously required highly skilled teams to train, close the gap between tech giants and digital novices—but that’s if they understand the fine print.

ML-focused startups are expected to make a significant 21% net contribution to the US GDP by 2030, underscoring their profound impact on economic growth. However, businesses only have to look as far as AI’s role in COVID-19 to know that unexplainable algorithms can lead to automated discriminations, misaligned intentions, and incomplete datasets. 

Explainability, known as ‘the black box,’ has always been a problem in deep learning models due to their complicated structures that are inherently uninterpretable to human users. And the latest waves of generative AI are much larger and more complex, completing tasks they were not designed to do. 

Therefore, as almost every budding entrepreneur prioritizing speed and productivity will look to integrate pre-trained ML into their business model, explainability will become a priority to ensure success. Encouraging the engineer’s role to adapt and understand the algorithms in place. 

With that in mind, let’s explore the future of AI startups.

Explainability Will Be a Topic in Every Round Table

When generative AI suggests a product or action for the user, providing an explanation amplifies its utility and impact on customers’ choices, enhancing their engagement and decision-making.

Explainable AI (XAI) is the system that unravels decision logic, unveils process pros and cons, and offers a glimpse into the system’s future behavior. As AI revolutionizes industries such as marketing—tailoring experiences, suggesting content, and automating interactions—industry professionals must master AI explainability. Balancing prediction precision with clear explanations is key to fostering reliable, business-aligned, and fair AI systems.

For this reason, startups will increasingly find themselves simulating potential questions and validating responses on the back end. Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations (LIME) is a method used to explain the predictions of machine learning models by approximating their behavior with simpler, interpretable tools. 

Startups need to know why ML models provide the answers they do to have confidence in them. They need explainability coverage. While information is available in big research groups like Meta, startups using smaller open-source models will increasingly focus on assessing the level of support.

The Role of the Applied AI Engineer Will Become Mainstream

If you create a drug and don’t do enough tests, the consequences are fatal. The same applies to software; startups building ML into their applications must regularly audit everything from penetration testing to vulnerability assessments. If they don’t do their homework, their product won’t reach the market. And without understanding the correct software and regional regulations, for example, they could be looking at a security breach or hefty fines.

Startups will need to have a team with skills to apply these models. Applied AI engineers may not know how to build ML models from scratch, but they must know how to validate and test them for bias—front engineering teams will get bigger. 

They will need to know what the models are for, their functionality, and how to create a good user experience. This will increasingly involve plugging models together, such as one that communicates with the customer automatically and another that solves bias to test the functionality.

On the usage side, the applied AI engineer will restrict language models. Say a US finance company is calculating consumers’ credit scores; they may choose to confine demographics such as the neighborhood because that can trigger race discrimination. Prompt engineering will help teams test and validate these, but the applied AI engineer will need deep industry knowledge to ask the right questions. 

The future: AGI and beyond 

Imagine one AI that can do anything, like a superhuman, reading and speaking—everything a human can do, but better. The mission of artificial general intelligence (AGI) is to form a world where businesses and consumers have access to help with almost any cognitive task, amplifying human ingenuity and creativity.

This is what OpenAI is trying to create. With a tight feedback loop of rapid learning and careful iteration, companies will be able to experience and assess the true potential of AI.

We are at the point where one model doesn’t know how to do everything, but does one thing really well, and we are connecting these models. A chatbot that reads and translates, coupled with another that reads and speaks, allows businesses to decipher text with one model and use the other to share audio in the desired language.

Policymakers and institutions must pay close attention to understand what’s happening, the benefits and downsides of these systems on the economy, and put regulations in place. The more explainable the AI, the easier it will be to gain regulatory support.

Many ML models exist, and to avoid exceedingly costly and time-consuming endeavors, startups will find ways to apply existing models and increase their in-house ability to validate and adapt them for their unique business. Future applications and startups will be prod­ucts of col­lab­o­ra­tion between AI specialists and industry experts.

About the Author

Lucas Bonatto is Director of Engineering for AI and ML at Semantix AI. With a deep passion for machine learning, he has contributed his expertise to renowned tech companies, developing the first generation of large-scale machine learning platforms. Additionally, Lucas is behind Marvin AI, one of the first open-source ML Ops platform and Elemeno, a comprehensive solution for Artificial Intelligence development with fully-managed and highly scalable infrastructure.Semantix AI is a prominent leader in Artificial Intelligence and Analytics solutions. They offer innovative and disruptive services, including one-stop-shop Generative AI platform for quickly implementing AI-native apps within businesses. Their expertise extends to multi-cloud infrastructure, advanced business performance, and industry data governance solutions.

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