Interview with Mark West, Head of EMEA, 4Paradigm.
In the past few years, the proliferation of AI has fundamentally changed how organizations operate on a day-to-day basis. Instead of relying entirely on human judgement in highly complex situations, AI has assisted people in making sound decisions when dealing with a multitude of variables.
However, AI has mainly been used by highly trained data scientists that do not necessarily have hands-on experience in the industry in which they’re employed. This is what 4Paradigm wants to change by democratizing AI and enabling ‘AI for Everyone’. Therefore, 4Paradigm’s products are built for regular professionals and not data scientists. In our founder Wenyuan Dai’s own words: “Our goal is to eliminate the technical barrier for applying artificial intelligence”.
What is the ‘Fourth Paradigm’?
This is the vision of the company. It is based on the book based on the insights of the renowned Turing Award winner, Dr. Jim Gray.
Dr. Gray predicted the shift that we are experiencing today with massive amounts of data being managed by AI: ‘The Fourth Paradigm’. The first three paradigms were experimental, theoretical and, most recently, computational science. He foresaw that in the ‘The Fourth Paradigm’ observational data would overwhelm scientists. The only way to cope with it, he argued, was a new generation of scientific computing tools (AI) to manage, visualize and analyze the data flood. 4Paradigm was brought into being to solve this problem.
What kind of AI is 4Paradigm specialized in?
We are a world-leader in binary classification problems. This essentially means that we excel in answering yes-or-no questions and in this field we are competing with some technology giants such as Google, Alibaba, Microsoft, and Tencent. 4Paradigm has focused on this field ever since we started in the financial services industry where binary classification problems are abundant.
What kind of companies has 4Paradigm helped?
Currently, we have assisted companies in 9 out 11 industries recognised under the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). For instance:
- In Financials, we have assisted several of the largest banks in the world with automatic credit scoring of loan applicants, anti-money laundering prevention and intelligent debt collection.
- In Consumer Staples and Consumer Discretionary, we have helped grocery stores, fast-food chains, and fashion houses enhance their customer relationships via precision marketing.
- In Healthcare, we have created a prediction model of neonatal weight and premature rupture of membranes. This enabled a client hospital to prove a strong correlation between barometric pressure and the premature rupture of membranes.
What kind of advice would you give to students who wish to use or learn how to use artificial intelligence in their field?
In my view, interdisciplinarity is the key to unlocking the value of the vast amounts of data that are released every minute. Therefore, intricate knowledge of a specific sector combined with data science skills is the optimal combination – it is not just about technical data science skills. For instance, if a student is able to identify future opportunities in a sector, extract knowledge from different sources of data and extrapolate the valuable findings, then I believe that student is on the way to success in AI.
What challenges does a Chinese AI company face in Europe?
Of course, the current political- and regulatory environmnts affect all data-related companies operating in Europe. However, there was no legal obstacle to 4Paradigm establishing a business in Europe, and we are operating our subsidiary in an open, honest and transparent way. We are more than happy to discuss any reservations that a European organisation might have about a Chinese company, and meanwhile we continue to deliver cutting-edge technology that eliminates the technical barrier for applying artificial intelligence to realise 4Paradigm’s founding vision of ‘AI for everyone’.