Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

If you’re thinking about embracing AI: just jump in

Andrew Ng had some stirring words of advice for any businesses that might be toying with the idea of introducing artificial intelligence into how they work.
March 27, 2019

Are you a company executive who fancies adopting AI in your business, but feels overwhelmed at the prospect? Then Andrew Ng, former founder of Google Brain and chief scientist at Baidu, has some advice for you: jump in.

“It is a big journey,” he said on the EmTech Digital stage, MIT Technology Review’s annual AI conference, “but jumping in is not hard.”

Ng is now the founder and chief executive of Landing AI, a venture dedicated to helping companies without the resources and know-how of traditional tech companies to participate in the AI revolution. It is those companies outside the AI industry, such as in retail, logistics, or transportation, that stand to benefit from the increased efficiency and unlocked potential that machine-learning applications provide, Ng said. But he understands that it can be hard. “[We’re here to] help companies do a very difficult but very valuable thing,” he said.

How to jump in? Ng advises starting small. Begin with a pilot project that requires only one or two engineers; set realistic expectations for what AI can and can’t do; and focus on scoring quick wins. Not only does this strategy help an organization quickly understand what it will take to continue investing in AI, but it will also help secure buy-in from higher-level executives. The best way to succeed in AI adoption, he said, is to have support from all levels of an organization.

He drew an example from his own experience when he first launched Google Brain. In the early days of starting that team, he faced widespread skepticism within the company about the potential of deep learning. It was through initial quick wins that he built the necessary momentum to obtain more resources.

Ng also shared his excitement about future advancements in AI—and what they will mean for businesses. For example, training deep-learning models on small data sets—100 data points or less—could open AI adoption up to a lot of businesses, such as health care, that might have much less data to work with than large tech platforms.

For now, though, Landing AI is focused on the two-to-four-year time scale. “The only thing better than a huge long-term opportunity is a huge short-term opportunity,” he joked. “We got a lot of those right now.”

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Conceptual illustration of a therapy session
Conceptual illustration of a therapy session

The therapists using AI to make therapy better

Researchers are learning more about how therapy works by examining the language therapists use with clients. It could lead to more people getting better, and staying better.

a Chichuahua standing on a Great Dane
a Chichuahua standing on a Great Dane

DeepMind says its new language model can beat others 25 times its size

RETRO uses an external memory to look up passages of text on the fly, avoiding some of the costs of training a vast neural network

fake person rewind to real person
fake person rewind to real person

AI fake-face generators can be rewound to reveal the real faces they trained on

Researchers are calling into doubt the popular idea that deep-learning models are “black boxes” that reveal nothing about what goes on inside

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.