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Can—Or Should—Everyday Businesses Develop Their Own Artificial Intelligence?

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The "Driving Business Value with AI" panel at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto on October 16, 2018

Element AI founder and CEO Jean-François Gagné perhaps put it best: “There is a direct association of doing AI with having a PhD degree and having all the data.”

Gagné, speaking at a panel at the Fortune Global Forum in Toronto, was musing on whether average businesses can—or should—develop their own artificial intelligence technology instead of buying it from larger corporations.

“It’s complex, it’s obscure, people refer to it as magic sometimes, and very inaccessible — it’s very hard,” he said. But, he added, “There will be different forms of democratization of the tech. I believe that tools are going to get more mature, and you’ll have the full length, all the different shades, of different tools that will be available.”

After further discussion, he said: “For you, more importantly, one of the big progresses you’re going to see is the ability to shape and design tools will be easier and easier to the non-expert… I think we’re like, five to ten years away from getting there.”

Joel Hyatt, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of business-to-business platform Globality, said at the same panel that artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming a necessity for many businesses.

“The fact is that AI can do what humans cannot do,” Hyatt said. “If you want to call that simply data analytics, be my guest, but you can do it at a scale and speed that humans cannot.”