Interview with Mikael Nordenstjerna, MainlyAI’s new CEO.

1. What are you looking forward to the most when starting at MainlyAI?

To get my hands dirty. I want to be in this amazing field of work and build a world-class company. With the foundation already in place, it will be a thrill to get busy realising all the promise of the tech in the company of wildly competent and inspiring people.

AI will change the world far more than most realise. I think that AI is right up there with the greatest inventions and world changing developments, such as the wheel, agriculture, writing and the internet. Joining MainlyAI will get me in the thick of things. And not only being in this exciting field, but also a chance to lead it. I strongly believe MainlyAI has a real chance of being a driver and an enabler for true change.

2. What is the impact of AI? Why is it so important to use AI in your business?

The use of AI is already widespread. You are using AI, or AI enabled, solutions and services all the time, perhaps without realising it. When you unlock your phone, the facial recognition is a product of AI. Navigation is another service that has been greatly enhanced thanks to AI. And autocorrect, although it can create involuntary humour or discomfort, is getting better and better at figuring out what you are really trying to write. Then search results, marketing, social media content, process improvements and of course chatbots are all other aspects of how AI is affecting your life today.

As a business, if you are not leveraging AI in your way of work, you risk falling behind the competition. There are so many applications where AI will be key to stay competitive. If you do not use your data and make that data into insights, you are missing the mark. Let’s list a few examples:

  • Data analysis is not limited to how many analysts you have and how good they are at their job. AI can detect patterns and deliver insights 24/7.
  • Outbound email campaigns analysis can be automated, and responses can be categorised by not only the response in itself, but tonality and other factors that a human would have to spend hours on.
  • Inventory management can be made more effective and productive by using AI image analysis. AI can detect defects, categorise, and label the inventory. Doing this manually is a cumbersome and time-consuming task.
  • AI in accounting is another field where costly errors can be avoided.

There are countless other applications of AI where the technology is a huge help. AI can be your best friend, working 24/7 with an unrivalled quality. To not use that should not be an option!

3. What do you think about the pace of AI deployment in the industry and why do you think it’s slow?

AI is on most companies’ horizon now. I think there is a fear of complexity, of how expensive it is and that they just don’t know where to start. The reality is that it does not have to be complex or expensive. I also think that some companies might not see the need. That they are doing fine without it. And that may be true today, but it will surely not be so in the future. There will be no businesses around that do not use in some way. It was the same when computers came on the scene. It was said that it was only big corporations that would have a need for computers, but time proved them wrong.

One of the main barriers for companies to start using AI is complexity. It is an abstract concept for many and daunting to even start a discussion about AI. However, today there are lots of tools and expertise out there. You don’t have to build it all from scratch. Look at others who have done successful implementations or applications of AI and learn from them. Find a way to make AI make sense to you and your company, for when you do understand its applications, it does not seem that complicated anymore.

Another barrier is the cost. The cost is as always what you make of it. You can spend millions and get nowhere, or you can start small, learn, and then grow. And as I wrote above, learn and re-use what others have done.

A third barrier is to know where to start. My advice is to look for where your company has the most obvious gain and most clear-cut case for where AI could help and start there. Once you are up and running with AI, it will be clear as to what possibilities there are, and where to apply it next. The next step is not that overwhelming anymore.

4. Where do you see companies could benefit from AI in their work to set and achieve sustainability targets?

Sustainability is something we all must have top of mind. AI can help in making companies more efficient and help them achieve their sustainable goals. It can also help with identifying which sustainability targets are achievable, which gives the best result and how they impact each other. AI can be used to minimize resources, analyse behaviours and data to recommend improvements and stop wasteful processes. This would create a gain in productivity, i.e., reduce carbon emissions for a comparable output. AI can also be used for analysing the sustainability itself and monitor, warn and suggest improvement and fixes to continuously decrease negative sustainability impact.

MainlyAI’s vision is also that we can bring down the carbon footprint of using AI itself. The emissions from running AI can be really high, but we think that a change is needed. AI generated insights, trained models, and data should be viewed as a commodity like any other and companies should be able to trade and share. This would mean that we can re-use AI commodities and thus reduce the carbon footprint. Companies should also be able to share platforms in a secure and safe way so that they are sustainable in their use of AI as well.

5. Companies are not operating in a vacuum; many processes are similar. What would be the natural next step in development of AI?

Every company likes to think of themselves as unique. I hate to break it to you, but most companies work in similar ways, and have the same challenges and problems. AI is no different from any other commodity a company uses. To mitigate many of the challenges with AI, the next step would be to be able to share and trade insights, data and algorithms in a safe and secure way as described above. If AI models are possible to re-use, there is no new training that needs to be done. The carbon footprint over a model’s lifetime will then decrease over time. There are also advances regarding the most efficient way to train models that will be contributing to lowering the carbon footprint. One example is Neuromorphic computing, and it is an alternative that draws inspiration from how the brain functions. This technique is much less energy-intensive than current computer models and might be a solution to more sustainable AI.

Five quick questions with Mikael:

  1. Android or Apple?
    • I’m team Android. I do have to admit that Apple do make good stuff, but I still prefer Android.
  2. Movies or Books?
    • I’ve always loved books and used to read a lot. But I love movies too (I’ve probably seen more movies than what is healthy)! But usually, the book is way better than the movie. But I watch more movie than I read books today. I can’t choose!
  3. City or Countryside?
    • I prefer to be close to nature, so Countryside would be my choice. I especially love the sea and absolutely love to be in the archipelago.
  4. Messy desk or clean desk?
    • I’d like to think I’m quite neat and tidy, but in reality, I’m more on the messy side. I really do try to keep my desk tidy, but I’m not always succeeding though.
  5. Glass half full or glass half empty?
    • The glass is always half full! I’m an optimist by heart and I wouldn’t want it any other way. There are positives and possibilities in everything!

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

  1. I am a hobby addict. But only for periods. When I find something that I truly enjoy, I go full on nerd. I read, watch videos, join forums, etc. to learn all about it. When I reach a level where I either understand I’m not going to be very good or that I must dedicate more time than I want to become really good, I quit and find something new. Currently, I’m deep into Disc Golf.
  2. I accidentally deleted a whole user database in one of my first employments. It was a good way to test our restore capabilities…
  3. The most “interesting” start to a company I had was after two weeks of training, I was sent to Boston, USA, to meet one of our prospective customers. I was there as an expert at our solution/API. My knowledge was drained after the first day, so I had to take all the questions during the day, and in the evening call Sweden to get the answers from the developers, code an example and bring back next day. Did that for 5 days, then I flew home on Saturday, flew to Bangalore, India, on Sunday and did the same for 5 days there with another prospect. When I came home, I was violently ill from food poisoning and jetlag.
  4. I really thought that the Windows phone had a bright future. I still stand by that! It actually was a good phone!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: