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The Questionnaire: Three AI execs explain the tech’s extraordinary powers—and its potential dangers

“It doesn’t yet have any understanding of truth”

By Barry Jordan Chong
The Questionnaire: Three AI execs explain the tech's extraordinary powers—and its potential dangers
Mike Murchison

CEO, Ada Makes AI more personal and conversational

Dream job as a kid: “I wanted to be Mario Lemieux. He taught me a lot about leadership—always making his teammates better.” Your first encounter with a smart machine: “It was with Eliza, one of the world’s first chatbots. It was magical that I could speak with another form of intelligence without having to code.” Favourite programming language: “Human language, because that’s the programming language of the future. ChatGPT is close to its final form.” Robot butler or robot dog: “Robot dog, to give my real dog, Sedar, a new friend. We adopted her during the pandemic, so she hasn’t socialized much.” A leader you learned from: “We named our company after Ada Lovelace, a British mathematician who was arguably the world’s first programmer. We try to challenge preconceptions—she represents that.” You picked Toronto as your HQ because… “It’s one of the most diverse cities on the planet, backed by strong immigration policies. And many people consider Toronto to be the AI capital of the world.” AI’s greatest danger: “It doesn’t yet have any understanding of truth or factuality.”


The Questionnaire: Three AI execs explain the tech's extraordinary powers—and its potential dangers
Helen Kontozopoulos

Co-founder and chief tech evangelist, Odaia Increases sales and efficiency in pharmaceuticals

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Dream job as a kid: “I wanted to be an archaeologist—until I went on an actual dig and realized that I liked hanging out with the people more than the work.” Celebrity doppelgänger: “I try to emulate Cate Blanchett, because I love her fashion sense.” Favourite programming language: “The best tool is your brain, so it doesn’t matter if you’re using Python or a pen.” Robot butler or robot dog: “Robot dog, because I’m a fan of Doctor Who’s robot dog, K9.” Mac or PC: “Mac, for sure.” A leader you learned from: “Claudette McGowan, who is chair of the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism.” Tip for raising venture capital: “It’s a numbers game. The more people you meet and build relationships with, the better.” Favourite start-up that isn’t yours: “Winterlight Labs, which helps detect dementia and other mental illnesses.” Best thing about automation: “It helps people who are overworked.” You picked Toronto as your HQ because… “I was born and raised here, and it’s close to New York, London and San Francisco, which is important—even in this age of Zoom.”


The Questionnaire: Three AI execs explain the tech's extraordinary powers—and its potential dangers
Arjun Narang

CTO, Gatik Teaches vehicles to drive themselves

Celebrity doppelgänger: “When I was younger, people said that I looked like Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor.” Your first encounter with a smart machine: “I believe it was in high school. I saw a video of a robot flawlessly moving around and climbing stairs. I started building my own robots after that.” Favourite programming language: “C++ has always been my go-to.” Mac or PC: “I’m a Mac person. They’re user friendly, sleek and beautiful.” Hardest part of your job: “None of it. We embrace problems as opportunities, and autonomous vehicles represent one of the most difficult problems of our time.” Tip for raising venture capital: “There’s no trick. Be consistent and raise money before you need the money.” Funniest failure: “We were testing in Arkansas, and our system kept misclassifying mailboxes as pedestrians. Every time the vehicle got close to one, it would slow down.” Best thing about automation: “Autonomous vehicles, in particular, have huge economic and societal benefits. The next five to 20 years are going to be game-changing.” AI’s greatest danger: “I’m an optimist. We’ve seen dangers in the movies, but I see AI as a progressive force.”

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