Element AI, the most prominent artificial intelligence (AI) company to come out of Canada, enjoys a lot of attention thanks to raising a lot of capital and its high-profile co-founder.
Recently, the company made headlines after announcing its plans to roll out its first products.
This endeavor comes more than one year and a half after Element AI fundraised more than $100m in venture capital.
“We’ve been on a long journey, building all the technology and figuring out all the right use-cases for us to start growing the business,” claimed the CEO and Co-founder of Element AI Jean-François Gagné.
“We’re now at the point where all of these products are becoming generally available, some in the first quarter of this year and some in the second quarter of this year.”
Element AI was founded in the fall of 2017 by Jean-François Gagné, Yoshua Bengio, and Nicolas Chapados, a Université de Montréal AI scientist and partner at Montreal VC Real Ventures respectively.
Yoshua Bengio is known for pioneering the creation of deep learning, an AI technique that triggered most of the recent innovations in the particular field.
The first products from Element AI are expected to be aimed at big companies — the company looks forward to winning customers in the financial industry such as asset managers, insurance companies and big banks.
The company is also aiming at entities in both logistics and transportation.
Currently, a single product is being tested in collaboration with the Port of Montreal.
There, the company is striving to make enhanced predictions relating to how long trucks would have to wait before they drop off, or pick up goods at the port.
“If you want to deploy any highly sophisticated piece of software, you will probably end up using some shape or form of artificial intelligence,” Jean-François Gagné said.
However, he said that access to such technology could be tricky, and most companies are leveraging pre-trained AI models.
Most contemporary artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as machine learning are “trained” through ingesting a massive amount of data.
At the start, the trainer is aware of what the output ought to be and helps in adjusting the system until it generates the desired results.
Gagné said that pre-trained models such as traditional software do not give enterprises adequate flexibility in competitive, ever-changing markets.
“Their rules are hard-coded or there’s a very long, long complex list of parameters that people need to switch on and switch off, that’s a very unnatural way of using systems,” he said.
According to Jean-François Gagné, the products from Element AI can be expected to be different since regular users — individuals such as cyber-security analysts, truck dispatchers, and insurance adjusters — at the entities that purchase the products will help in training the systems while carrying out their jobs.
“As they utilize the system over time, the system gathers more and more knowledge about their organization and how they want to operate, and it improves in performance,” he said.
Element AI’s artificial intelligence products will be in a position to accomplish this, as they are composed of “core capabilities” — AI “building blocks,” which can be integrated in different ways.
For instance, a “building block” with the ability to read text such as handwriting can be integrated with a natural language processing (NLP) block in a bid to “read” a document.
According to the Product Manager of Element AI Jerome Pasquero, It can be utilized in identifying the date, final total and date on a receipt even though that similar mixture of “blocks” can also be utilized in reading an insurance claim, mortgage application or even a bill of lading.
Element AI stated that it does not plan on replacing human operators with machines.
“What’s really, really important for us is that there’s always a human in the loop, we’re not aiming at replacing, we’re aiming at augmenting,” claimed Christophe Coutelle, the vice-president of marketing at Element AI.
“It’s like a very smart assistant that is able to help you and do all the laborious tasks or be able to take into account a bigger amount of data.”
The inception of Element AI was triggered by the founders’ mission to democratize AI with collaborative and non-predatory research model.
Back in 2017, several months after its inception, the company held a historic Series A financing round.
Since then, Element AI has created over 450 job opportunities spread out across five cities in Asia, Europe, and North America.
The company’s executives and founders boast years of experience in transforming enterprises and advancing AI-based research by leveraging artificial intelligence.