Excerpts from podcast with Mr. Shekar Raman

Shekar Raman is the CEO and co-founder of Birdzi, a grocery retail AI solutions company. He is passionate about leveraging AI and machine learning to enhance the customer experience for retailers and brands. Shekar started working on the Human Genome Project in the early 90’s, developing algorithms for protein modeling at the Department of Human Genetics, University of Pennsylvania. He later applied speech recognition techniques to identify and classify genetic sequences at the Department of Human Genetics, UNLV.

Shekar then joined AT&T Bell Labs as a consultant in the Speech Recognition group. He further expanded his career in Systems Engineering, architecting and implementing infrastructure solutions for a large Fortune 500 company. He pursued his Master's in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Digital Signal Processing and Pattern Recognition at Villanova University.

 

Podcast Insights:

  • The term “AI” is often overused and has become a catchphrase for companies to gain attention. While the term “AI” may be overused and true AI has not been achieved, the existing models have demonstrated remarkable capabilities. The development of AGI, representing general intelligence, is an ongoing pursuit. The emergence of multi-purpose AI systems like Chat GPT that enable meaningful interactions is seen as an exciting advancement in the field.
  • Intelligence goes beyond training models on data; it encompasses a broader range of abilities and understanding. The concept of artificial general intelligence (AGI), whic
  • The impact of AI in the retail industry is still in its early stages. Yet, one obvious benefit of AI is the ability to make sense of vast amounts of data generated from retail interactions, including customer interactions, inventory, supply chain, market conditions, product prices, and trends.
  • AI can help retailers pull together and analyze this data to provide meaningful and actionable insights to owners and operators. AI systems are becoming better equipped to handle larger volumes of data, enabling retailers to respond faster and smarter to customer trends and behaviors.
  • The future of AI in retail may involve more personalized interactions with customers, tailored to individual preferences and needs.
  • Human beings are inherently social animals and desire interactions and experiences with others. The travel boom and people’s desire to go out and do things indicate a preference for physical interactions and experiences.
  • Physical retail is considered safe, and people enjoy the tactile experience of touching and feeling products, as well as interacting with others. While e-commerce has provided convenience and global reach, physical stores are not disappearing.
  • The future of physical retail lies in creating a hybrid experience that combines the best of both digital and physical realms. Technology will play a role in enhancing the in-store experience, making it more enjoyable and engaging for customers.
  • There is surely a place for grab-and-go models in retail, but large-scale implementation in big-format stores may be currently cost-prohibitive. Retailers are exploring where AI can truly enhance operations and profitability.
  • The focus is on utilizing AI to work through the volume of data, improve inventory management, predict trends, and provide personalized recommendations to shoppers.
  • Back-office fulfillment and supply chain logistics are areas where AI can significantly improve operational efficiency. AI can also enhance the customer experience, and retailers are actively seeking ways to implement AI in these aspects of their operations.
  • The gathering of data and its usage by AI systems raises concerns about privacy invasion and the need for transparency. Unconscious bias in AI systems due to biased data inputs is a matter of concern.
  • Transparency and restriction of data usage can help address privacy concerns and build trust with users.
  • Oversight from regulatory bodies and retailer assurance regarding data usage can enhance user comfort and trust.
  • Public debate and discussion are crucial for addressing these complex topics. As AI becomes more prevalent, people want to remain connected but also want assurances that their connection is not being exploited.
  • Overall, the key takeaway is that privacy concerns regarding AI, including data gathering and usage, biased outputs, and exploitation, need to be addressed through transparency, data restriction, oversight, and public discourse to ensure user comfort and trust in AI systems.
  • Technology excels when it seamlessly integrates into our lives, making tasks easier without us realizing its presence. The inevitability of technological progress means that we will continue to move forward and adopt new technologies.
  • Technological advancements happen gradually, with one innovation leading to another, eventually becoming an integral part of daily life. The impact of technology, such as AI, on areas like food assistance can help address data confusion and enable healthier lifestyles.
  • Technologies that are now essential were unimaginable in the past, highlighting the gradual integration of technology into our lives. The adoption of technology is a gradual process, and looking back over time, we can see the significant changes it has brought.
  • While some technological advancements may seem unfamiliar or even strange at first, they gradually become a normal part of our lives as technology continues to evolve and integrate seamlessly. The potential impact of technologies like AI in areas such as food assistance holds promise for addressing challenges and improving various aspects of our lives.

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