Remember the web 20 years ago in 1998, or mobile apps a decade ago in 2008? That’s where artificial intelligence is now, with enormous possibilities ahead, a Tampa tech veteran says.
“People know it’s out there, but they haven’t quite seen what it will look like a couple of years from now. That’s what I’m excited about. What artificial intelligence is going to do is change a lot of things,” said Steve Tingiris, founder and managing director of Dabble Lab, a four-year-old Tampa software company specializing in artificial intelligence assistants for businesses.
Tingiris will talk about the role of artificial intelligence and digital assistants during the Synapse Summit, Jan. 23-24 at Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa.
Dabble Lab helps developers, businesses and agencies build custom solutions for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Twilio Autopilot and other emerging digital assistant platforms.
“More and more businesses are relying on artificial intelligence to automate processes,” he said. “In some cases, things that humans used to do machines can do now. We help in building those types of applications.
“Most of it tends to be call center, contact center kind of things where people are calling in to get information and now bots can deal with a lot of that flow. We do a lot of that. With Amazon Alexa, Google Home and those new voice assistants that have been gaining popularity in recent years, that’s really been driving the business for us because it’s creating visibility and attention to what artificial intelligence might be able to do in years to come.”
A demonstration video on Dabble Lab’s website shows Alexa’s voice dashboard skill — starting a company’s daily meeting, then providing verbal reports on sales, finance and product development, sending a status report to investors, and analyzing social media postings, punctuated by comments like “pretty sweet” or “wow, I’d like that person working on my code.”
Skeptics have raised concerns that artificial intelligence will displace human labor, but Tingiris said it frees people up to do things they are more passionate about.
“Computers give us an opportunity to be more human,” he said. “We spend a lot of our life doing things we really don’t enjoy because we have to, and in a perfect world we’d have a lot of time to do the things we really enjoy doing and technology enables that.”
He also sees artificial intelligence as an equalizing force.
“Very wealthy people have enjoyed the benefits of having assistants for a long time. A wealthy person never calls the plumber when the sink breaks, they’ve got an assistant that does that. In fact, they probably never knew the sink broke. They don’t have to go googling to find the best flights and spend hours finding the best price. They’ve got an assistant that does that,” Tingiris said.
“Artificial intelligence will make those kinds of niceties available to everyone. It is liberating because it will free up a lot of time we spending stuff doing things that are not all that valuable.”
Dabble Lab is the fourth company launched by Tingiris, who said starting new businesses is addicting.
“It mixes creativity, adventure, excitement, hard work, it’s never boring and it’s fun being around people who are passionate about what they are doing,” Tingiris said. “I’m doing what I want to be doing, even on the days when it’s hard.”
While he’s been a CEO for most of his career, Tingiris said he still writes code almost every day and loves teaching others because that’s how he learns new things.
“The name of my company, Dabble Lab, is all about that idea. The one thing that stays constant with tech is that it’s always changing, really fast, so you can’t get overly focused on one thing for too long. You’ve always got to be dabbling and seeing what else is out there, but you can’t do it in a way that has no purpose. You’ve got to dabble but you’ve got to do it scientifically. You’ve got to learn really quick, play with something and decide if it’s a fit and move on or not. That’s where the Lab part came,” Tingiris said. “Teaching for me gives me the opportunity to dive in. I have to understand it enough to explain it to someone else.”
See the full lineup of speakers, and register for Synapse here.