#73 Powering Change using AI with Alex Ermolaev – AI Leader

Alex Ermolaev.jpg

Alex Ermolaev has been involved in the software industry for 20 years, including AI-specific experience at Bell Labs, Microsoft, several startups and now Nvidia. He is currently a leading AI software developer and works with groundbreaking companies that are implementing incredible AI solutions across several domains. 

In this episode, Alex describes how he started in the data space. Early in his career, he got a chance to work on a lot of data and software products. His first application that he enjoyed was expert systems. Expert systems are an interesting technology; however, it worked quite well in very few scenarios. Sometimes people spent a lot of time and budget on these systems with no return. Please don’t assume that technology will be able to do everything you need it to do before spending time and money. Alex came to the United States for an internship at Bell Labs, then worked for Microsoft, and startups where he did several AI projects. Some people try to use AI to ensure a TV advertisement is shown at the appropriate time or not, whereas some people will use it for brand logo stuff. About five years ago, AI started getting much attention again. It is possible to achieve higher accuracy with AI systems than anyone was able to see before. Because of this, Alex decided to dedicate all of his time to AI projects and nothing else.  

Then, Alex and Felipe discuss business development skills. It is easy to sit in an office and assume the world works in a certain way. The only way to understand how the world truly works is by getting out and experiencing it. He went for a business trip and saw so many new things, got new information, and made new contacts. When he comes back to the office, nothing has changed. You realize the company will operate in a certain way despite all the changing aspects outside of those walls. Sometimes the company will see business development as an external process. When Alex was looking for a company who was taking advantage of the AI resurgence, he came across Nvidia. Thousands of people are working with AI for Nvidia now. Alex helps organizations across the board adopt the tools of AI for their particular applications. He loved working and interacting with people trying to solve problems. 

Then, Alex speaks about the successes and failures he saw when working for companies and their AI technology. Alex says AI is finding patterns in data to predict or detect something. There are many cases where patterns do not exist. For instance, in stock markets, patterns tend to be very weak because changes in the stock market tend to be very external. People try to apply AI to the stock market, but the pattern is very weak. Computer viruses and fraud are examples of successful AI patterns. Fraud tends to happen in patterns, whether it is telecom fraud or e-commerce fraud. If you detect a pattern, you can apply it to future cases to stop fraudulent activities. Stay tuned to hear Alex discuss how to tackle data problems using AI, some exciting uses for AI, and what Alex is most proud of in his career. 

Enjoy the show!

We speak about:

  • [01:50] How Alex started in the data space

  • [04:55] Alex’s professional background  

  • [10:30] Working for the finance team at Microsoft 

  • [14:55] Business development skills  

  • [18:50] Challenges working with startups 

  • [22:10] Working at Nvidia  

  • [26:20] Successful and unsuccessful AI patterns  

  • [30:00] AI and collecting data 

  • [35:15] How to tackle data problems using AI 

  • [40:30] Exciting uses for AI  

  • [43:15] The execution of new AI programs  

  • [49:00] What Alex is most proud of  

  • [50:20] Be patient and invest in your knowledge   

Resources:

Alex’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexermolaev


Quotes:

  • “The best way to develop knowledge in any area is to experience it.”

  • “It is easier to sit in an office and assume the world works in a certain way.”

  • “Don’t be in startups because it’s cool, try and find a path that meets your own needs.”

  • “Working with startups is a lot of broader outreach and helping the community understand what is possible.”

Thank you to our sponsors:

UNSW Master of Data Science Online: studyonline.unsw.edu.au

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Alex Ermolaev is based in San Francisco, California.

And as always, we appreciate your Reviews, Follows, Likes, Shares and Ratings. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy the show!