Interview With Michael Walton, CMO and CPO, Ever AI
Michael is a driven & entrepreneurial product exec who is passionate about developing high performing teams and building compelling online products. As a product leader, credits his strength from his varied experience. Michael has cofounded multiple startups bringing them from nothing to product-market fit to acquisition, and has also joined more established companies to lead them through phases of hyper-growth.
Ever AI offers best-in-class face recognition technology with the most comprehensive, real-life data set of any private company in the world. Our models have identified hundreds of millions of global clustered identities to date, all derived directly from mobile consumers of our Ever mobile app, which is the #1 productivity app in 95+ countries.
Tell us about your journey into Artificial Intelligence?
I have had a wide range of professional experiences that led me to pursue a career in AI. Most recently, as the chief product officer of a large marketing automation company, I recognized the sheer breadth of data we worked with and saw the need for more intelligent methods to leverage that data in a meaningful way through machine learning and AI. This sparked my interest in learning more about this space and the power that such tools can have on businesses. AI is wide-ranging, with use cases emerging and evolving each day.
Today, as the CMO of Ever AI, I am excited to be at the forefront, helping to drive adoption and explain the value proposition of AI, computer vision, and facial recognition for businesses and individuals. It’s rare to find a role that provides an opportunity to both define AND transform a new market.
What makes Ever a fascinating AI company for marketers?
AI will undoubtedly transform the marketing industry, and Ever AI is well positioned to help lead that change.
At Ever AI, we are using AI to create computer vision and facial recognition solutions to help our clients better engage with and understand their customers. Our solutions can help marketers recognize their customers in real world settings like retail stores, hotels or trade shows, allowing them to personalize the services or experiences to their customers preferences – like the work we do with Softbank Robotics and their humanoid robot, Pepper.
We can also help by analyzing photo or video assets to help marketers better understand their customers’ interests and preferences.
How are face-recognition technologies shaping up with the maturity of Data Management Platforms and Imaging softwares?
Unfortunately, I don’t believe there will be much of a connection between them.
How do you make AI deliver economic benefits as well as social goodwill?
Think about your journey at the airport. Each traveler must check in at several different points: 24-hours before a flight, on arrival at the security checkpoint, and on entering the plane. Once the traveler gets on-board, flight attendants ask questions regarding beverage and snack preference, and in some cases, meal selection. More often than not, you make the same choices every time, but the airline continues to ask the same questions, regardless. What if we could live in a world where airports and airlines could leverage information more intelligently to streamline this process? This would, without a doubt, deliver economic benefit for both the airport and airlines, and would improve the overall flying experience for passengers.
This is just one example of how AI, and more specifically facial recognition, can provide value for both companies and individuals. The same can apply to the customer experience in retail stores or hotels. By streamlining and personalizing processes and improving the quality of experiences, companies can reduce costs, focus on maximizing time with customers, and likely reduce customer churn.
How do you compete and/or collaborate with the AI biggies in the industry who have their own AI labs?
In the world of AI, your models are only as good as the data you have to train that model.
And, at Ever AI, we’ve amassed an unmatched and proprietary, global dataset of over 13 billion (and growing) photos and videos to help train our facial recognition models. This data advantage, paired with the research from our acclaimed team of machine learning engineers, has allowed us to develop facial recognition technology that is faster and more accurate across all industry benchmarks than our “biggie” competitors.
Can face-recognition from EverAI help organizations meet data security and compliance standards?
Absolutely. Biometrics is a straightforward way to develop multi-factor authentication that is frictionless and highly secure. By using facial recognition software, like Ever AI, authentication goes beyond the text message and password to include biometric capabilities that can improve data security.
Tell us about your AI research programs and the most outstanding digital campaign at EverAI or elsewhere?
Given the unique dataset we’ve collected and the market opportunity, we’ve been able to recruit and attract a truly world-class team of machine learning engineers. Their research has been focused on real world face detection, verification and recognition, automatic tagging and extraction of attributes such as age, gender, ethnicity and expression, as well as protecting against adversarial attacks that would attempt to spoof such systems.
What are the major challenges for AI technology companies in making it more accessible to local communities? How do you overcome these challenges?
Like a lot of new technologies, AI and machine learning are not well-understood and, that lack of understanding can be perceived negatively. It’s the job of AI technology companies to bridge the gap by focusing on the value that AI and its applications bring to the end customer – like uncovering new insights, or simply making their lives easier.
What AI startups and labs are you keenly following?
I’m excited about the innovation happening on the hardware side with the development of AI-specific chips. Startups like Cerebras Systems, Wave Computing, Graphcore and others are creating breakthroughs that will help drive the next wave of AI applications.
What technologies within AI and computing are you interested in?
I’m particularly interested in facial recognition and wider computer vision. It’s an area of AI that has applications which are, and will continue to be, truly valuable to businesses and consumers alike. From enabling more enhanced security to allowing for more personalized customer experiences, it really is an interesting and valuable space.
As an AI leader, what industries do you think would be fastest in adopting AI/ML with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for AI technology markets?
Adoption of facial recognition technology has only just begun in the US, specifically in industries like banking/payments and government. With the popularity of the iPhone X helping to drive understanding and acceptance of facial recognition, we can expect to see many more industries like retail, hospitality, and entertainment beginning to introduce facial recognition technology to help them operate more efficiently and improve the overall experience for their customers.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
For everyone that struggles with email overload, Gmail’s “Multiple inbox” feature is a great productivity hack. You can create inboxes for to-dos, to-reads and awaiting reply, so you can quickly triage your main inbox and focus on the most important items. It’s a great time saver.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Dan O’Connell – CEO at TalkIQ – AI applied to speech recognition & NLP.