David Talby: Bringing Advances in Artificial Intelligence with Real-World AI Systems

David Talby

Artificial intelligence is developing faster and speeding up exponentially. The next generation of AI-powered technologies are accelerating the innovation process and forming the heart of cutting-edge solutions developed globally.

Pacific AI, a company led by an experienced technology leader David Talby helps enterprise build AI-powered products, services, and teams. It gets them to market faster, applies for the latest state-of-the-art scientific advances, delivers enterprise-grade software that scales reliably in production, and train their team on best practices as it goes.

The company specializes in building enterprise-grade systems for high-compliance industries like healthcare, pharma, and finance. It AI enables companies to put artificial intelligence to work.

David feels there’s an avalanche of new solutions that have just become feasible thanks to recent advances in deep learning, reinforcement learning, and natural language processing. But there are very few teams who can actually turn this new research into production-grade products & services – that actually work, scale, and are safe and secure. Pacific AI has mastery in building AI platforms that enable not only building and deploying models in production – but also ensure that these models retain and improve their accuracy and bias over time and as the number of models & user’s scales.


A Resilient Background

David Talby, Chief Technology Officer of Pacific AI, holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science, an MBA, and about 20 years of industry experience. He has built distributed teams and web-scale products at Amazon; got into machine learning and information retrieval at Microsoft a decade ago; and spent five years as a VP Engineering & Chief Technology Officer at an early big data analytics startup, before venturing out on his own. He started Pacific AI and has been running it as the team which organically grew to serve a growing customer base.


Making AI Effective

Other than delivering what it promises to, big value adds the company aims to provide is education. David said people know that “AI is a priority” but want to separate the fairy dust from the actual technology. If you can help someone see through the noise – explain where they don’t need fancy techniques, versus where reinforcement learning is actually the fastest & cheapest way to reach a business goal (and then deliver on it) – you help them grow. If you go a step further and explain how to operate, monitor, scale, and secure models in production – which is different in big ways from the best practices for traditional software – you help them grow. “Most importantly, people want to build their own capability and their team’s capability in the technology – so getting people hands-on experience and knowledge so they continue on their own is important to Pacific AI. The more people know AI as engineering instead of science fiction, the faster this industry and nation move ahead,” he added.


Challenging Evolution Over Time

Pacific AI is at the very initial phase of the journey. It is so early on in the evolution of AI that most of the applications, tools, and best practices have not been invented yet. A good comparison would be the Internet in 1995 or the internal combustion engine in 1890. David expects that the “best”, most popular and fastest growing technologies and tools will keep changing over the next two decades as quickly as they have over the last decade.


Hallmark of Achievers

David opines that innovative leaders need a delicate balance between the childish curiosity of getting to play with all the cool new toys and the adult pragmatism of delivering great consistent results for your customers.


Bracing Customer Needs to Drive Innovation

David describes his approach towards innovation by quoting, “It’s not hard. You listen to your customers, who in reality tend to be vocal about what they don’t like, don’t trust, or wish would happen. You also read lots of academic papers and track open source project that unlocks new capabilities. When there’s a match between what enough people want and what you know just became possible – you build it”.


Advice to Budding Leaders

When asked on the advice to emerging leaders David said, “it’s never about the technology and it’s always about your customers. In that sense, AI isn’t different than any other new technology. So, start with understanding your customers, build them a better mousetrap, make sure they know about it, and keep at it.”

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