by Daniel Gross3/19/2017
Some think the excitement around Artificial Intelligence is overhyped. They might be right. But if they’re wrong, we’re on the precipice of something really big. We can’t afford to ignore what might be the biggest technological leap since the Internet.
In an effort to usher in more innovation with AI, Y Combinator is going to try an experiment in the upcoming batch: a vertical group in YC dedicated to AI companies.
The program will have a few domain-specific perks such as:
• Office hours with engineers experienced in ML to help overcome technical challenges.
• Extra cloud compute credits for GPU instances.
• Special talks by leaders in the field.
If the experiment works out, we’ll expand what we offer to include things like access to proprietary datasets and computing infrastructure.
What are we looking for?
From analyzing legal documents to spotting tumors, computers are producing better results than humans. Just like software helped streamline businesses, AI will further reduce costs and improve the quality of many tasks across every industry. This could be anything from helping farmers plant better to providing everyone with free machine-powered psychologists. We’re agnostic to the industry and would eventually like to fund an AI company in every vertical. We only ask that the team has sufficient ML experience to build out their vision.
We also have one specific RFS: Robot Factories. Many of the current techniques for robotic assembly and manufacturing are brittle. Robot arms exist, but are difficult to set up. When things break, they don’t understand what went wrong. As a result, humans are still leveraged to assemble products like an iPhone. We think ML (aided by reinforcement learning) will soon allow robots to compete both in learning speed and robustness. We’re looking to fund teams that are using today’s ML to accomplish parts of this vision.
We think the increased efficiency from AI will net out positive for the world, but we’re mindful of fears of job loss. As such we’re also looking to fund companies focused on job re-training, which will be a big part of the shift.
Our long-term goal is to democratize AI. We want to level the playing field for startups to ensure that innovation doesn’t get locked up in large companies like Google or Facebook. If you’re starting an AI company, we want to help you succeed. Apply here and mention this post in your application.
Daniel Gross co-founded Greplin (later called Cue), funded by YC in Winter 2010. Cue was acquired by Apple in 2013, where Daniel continued to lead ML efforts across iOS and OS X for three years.