Augmented Innovation and Connecting Ideas Through an AI Charged Search

Brian Sager is a polymath and serial entrepreneur who has taken on fields as varied as biotechnology, clean energy and music. He most recent venture, Omnity, uses machine learning, and is in position to take on the challenge of searching and connecting the rush of data being produced in our digital world. Every day 10,000 new scientific papers are published, just in English, and other fields are also producing data at an extraordinary rate. No human being in any field can possibly keep up with all that new knowledge production. Most authors are aware of less than 1 percent of information related to their topic and yet most innovation comes from connecting up insights across multiple fields. Artificial Intelligence has arrived just in time to augment our human brains and help us master that explosion of knowledge and consequently accelerate innovation in every industry and every field. Sager’s company has harnessed the potential of AI, realizing that “We need to respect the fact that we can’t do everything a computer can do, but we also need to respect the fact that a computer can’t do everything that we can do. We need to combine those together, and that combination I think… it’s becoming more and more obvious to a lot of folks and that is a broad framework of augmented reality, augmented innovation…”

All of us have a stake in accelerating more innovation to solve the many challenges that the world faces right now. Ideally, step one would be to quickly establish what’s already known about any particular problem in a field, searching across all languages and countries around the world. Step two would be to connect up any of the world’s 200 million knowledge workers with knowledge or expertise related to solving that particular problem. Fortunately AI has reached the point where it can now routinely help us solve those two daunting tasks. Sager observes that “Machine-learning is wonderful, but it’s not going to create sentient robots that are going to take over the world anytime soon. What it will do is allow us to massively process data, but then the question becomes, what are we processing it for?” He also sees the potential for using AI in increasing our innovation since “[computers are] are insufficient for ideation, innovation, and interdisciplinary creativity that spark across the field, the jumping over the fence, computers don’t do. The idea is how close can we bump up against where humans are helpful which is in that creative way of thinking, but leverage the computer to do things that humans can’t which would be process huge amounts of data.”