Why Vicarious’ $50M Investment Round Matters for Entrepreneurs


Check this out. A company of 10 employees that’s raised $50M of investment from Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel and Ashton Kutcher, just to name a few. Few things make me sit up and take notice — this is one of them.

The company is called Vicarious and it’s an artificial intelligence startup.

And, as we’ve discussed at Abundance 360, I’m on high-alert for A.I. going from deceptive to disruptive this decade.

Last October, Vicarious announced that their machine learning software “achieved success rates up to 90% on modern CAPTCHAs from Google, Yahoo, PayPal, Captcha.com, and others.” Captchas are those squiggly words you type into a website to prove you’re a human and not a ‘bot.’ Well, turns out Vicarious’ bot has gotten as good as a human (again).

Vicarious aims to build software that can think and learn like a human. The company was founded in 2010 by D. Scott Phoenix and Dr. Dileep George. Their first product aims to combine machine learning and neuroscience to create a visual system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans.

This is certainly not an easy task. And it won’t happen quickly. But the signals that the Vicarious team and their backers are emitting suggest the following:

AI is transitioning from Deceptive to Disruptive: The field of AI has been “developing” for >30 years. We’ve heard about the many possible applications of the technology, but we haven’t really seen it disrupt major industry players and standards across all of these applications. But with teams like Vicarious leveraging next-generation AI technology, and massive momentum shifts like IBM’s open-sourcing Watson on the cloud, we will begin to see AI applications take down status quo organizations droves at a time, all this decade. So what does that mean for your business?

Exponential Organizations dominate: At 10 people, Vicarious has kept their organization small and lean. They’ve brought on only the experts to make the best product possible, and they leverage other resources to build buzz and ensure scalability. I wonder what their Exponential Organization (EXO) Score is? (More on this at this year’s Abundance 360 Summit.)

It’s time to learn how to code: There has never been a more important time to understand the fundamentals of computer science, algorithms, and perhaps even machine learning. Check out Coursera, Codecademy, Udacity, Khan Academy, and others to dive in. If you don’t have a “machine learning guy” on your team, take someone smart and passionate and train them. A great machine learning course by Stanford’s Andrew Ng can be found here.

Also, I’m building something big. If you are interested in learning more about how to capitalize on opportunities like Vicarious, apply here.

[image: flickr/Saad Faruque]

Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Peter H. Diamandis, MDhttp://diamandis.com/
Diamandis is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions. He is also the executive founder and director of Singularity University, a global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build a better future for all. As an entrepreneur, Diamandis has started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital, and education. He is also co-founder of BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund with $250M investing in exponential technologies. Diamandis is a New York Times Bestselling author of two books: Abundance and BOLD. He earned degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT and holds an MD from Harvard Medical School. Peter’s favorite saying is “the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
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