AI Investors - Don’t Think You’re Anonymous

06 December 2017

“To be a successful investor you have to bet against the consensus and be right” -  Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater. 

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) fast beginning to dominate the investment sector, not only is it perhaps difficult to find that venture that’s swimming against the tide, but the role of an investor is now more likely to be scrutinised.

George Orwell’s dystopia – 1984 – is fast becoming a reality. We are moving into an age of data-ocracy with increased surveillance and digital connectivity. And with all the benefits that our most intelligent phase as a species brings, there are many concerns and many individuals who are beginning to ask: who is big brother? Who has funded my AI home butler? And what will they do with all the data they have about me?

Putting aside the potential risks associated with an AI investment, like any investment, now is probably a good time to take a moment to consider whether, as someone looking to invest in AI, your reputation and privacy is well protected.

What is the AI buzz really about?

AI is all about machine learning ; in other words the analysis of large sets of data and the ability to learn from and manipulate patterns and trends.  

Mckinsey Global Institute estimates that total annual external investment in AI was between $8B to $12B in 2016, with machine learning attracting nearly 60% of that investment. The overriding attraction being that machine learning start-ups are code-based and are therefore able to scale up to include new features, fast. Scalability is attractive. More features, products and services formed as a result of really knowing your user.


  1. Cyber-criminals: AI is data rich and the data of stakeholders and investors feed into this.  Hackers see data as currency and your data as an investor is valuable. Hacktivists will take this further as they have a cause to promote. If the AI you are investing in is ground breaking in the way it is able to learn from the data fed into it – don’t be alarmed if a hacktivist considers your data as the price.
  2. FameThe people our society celebrates is a moving piece. With facial recognition soon to be the norm – individuals are more likely to be curious about and praise those who have changed the face of society. Curiosity leads to intrusion, especially when there is increased demand for content about you. 
  3. InsidersThe threat is not always external. Think about who you have partnered with. Are they on the same page as you? What would the repercussions on you and your stakeholders be if they leaked valuable data? Or your identity?

With data sitting at the heart of most day-to-day interactions and cyber-attacks on the rise, a person’s identity is more exposed than ever. If reputation is what people think of you, then privacy is what people know about you. Ultimately, the defence of these two crucial assets is going to require a layered approach when it comes to AI investment.

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