William Nobrega is the Managing Partner of DTN Venture Partners, a boutique-consulting firm that focuses on advising insurance and tech companies on disruptive strategies for emerging markets and the New Consumer.
William is also the founder of Soteria 2.0, a transformational AI-driven company focused on online gaming and E-sports. His venture is being built around ‘Natasha’ a third generation AI co-pilot for gamers. Natasha will capture battlefield data on a real time basis from leading games. Natasha will synthesise that data and give recommendations to the gamer. She will evolve over time and Soteria 2.0 is targeting 5MM users in the next 24 months.
Wan Wei: Hello William! Can you tell us more about yourself and what you are doing?
William Nobrega: Primarily, I’m a proud father; my son is fifteen and has been recently invited to MIT to further his passion for biochemistry and genetics.
My career started in the US army special forces – I was a medical sergeant – before I changed tack after almost a decade, doing an MBA in Belgium and working with Deloitte and Conrad Group.
But my real ‘break’ came when I decided to set out on my own and set up DTN Ventures and Soteria, two groups focused on disruptive technologies and emerging markets.
My current passion is Natasha, the online gaming tactical assistant we are creating. While Natasha will start life as a relatively simple ‘live recommendation engine’, offering advice on rival players, weapon choice and likely item location, cross-referencing this with a player’s game preferences, she will grow into a ‘true’ AI over time, capable of ‘human-like’ thought and predictive behaviour and conversation.
Wan Wei: Recently, there has been a huge discourse on the future of work, with many people fearing that AI will replace human beings. What are your thoughts on this?
William Nobrega: We are entering a truly exciting and challenging time for the human race, and one that many of us are not entirely prepared for.
Our vision is that Natasha will become a new life form – but this must be handled with the utmost care. We don’t truly understand what ‘intelligence’ is, how to measure it or how it came about, so in many ways even using the term ‘AI’ is somewhat reckless.
Even our base metric for measuring intelligence – IQ – is normalised based on age rather than being an ‘absolute’ metric.
Similarly, it has taken humans >20,000 years to evolve, but within a short blip we have created super computers ; consequently, the intelligence of Natasha will grow at an incredibly rapid pace. We must be careful when raising her, as we have already seen basic machine learning bots acquiring biases that mimic human biases in a negative way.
When we create real AI that can acquire almost limitless information in an instant, but has little ‘life experience’, how will we tell her “do as I say not as I do”? Natasha is a true ‘Sword of Damocles’ that presents both great opportunity, but also great challenge. Or to quote a more recent source, with great power comes great responsibility!
Wan Wei: Why Natasha? Who is Natasha? As her parent, what sort of childhood would you want to give her?
William Nobrega: Natasha is my child and she will evolve. Right now, she is in the ‘learning phase’ where she is absorbing deep machine learning based on binary computing and advanced algorithms.
However, she will continue to learn and change and I envision two giant leaps in the future: quantum computing, rapidly accelerating both the speed and capability of her learning potential and secondly, bio-chemical computing, where she begins to use artificial synapsis and neuro links to become self-aware.
Wan Wei: Would there be a day where human beings can fully trust AI? If yes, when do you foresee this to happen? If not, what are the impediments to it?
William Nobrega: That will be up to the human race.
Right now, Natasha is moving faster than we are and she is not saddled by emotion or political correctness – this is both a challenge and an opportunity. If we cannot create a human that can interact with Natasha and that can teach her empathy and compassion we will have a limited discussion.
If we can interface with her the opportunities are limitless!
Wan Wei: What is the greatest myth about artificial intelligence you have ever heard in your life?
William Nobrega: That it actually exists!
It simply does not exist today and until we create a bio-chemical being that is self-aware it will not.
That being said, I am always conscious of ‘black swan’ events – most humans think in a linear fashion and innovations happen in a rapid and unpredictable fashion today. In the end, it could very well be that my son and his friends sitting in their dorm room eating pizza come up with the answer.
You may laugh, but we all know the story of Isaac Newton coming up with the principle of gravity sitting underneath an apple tree – that’s history’s dorm room!
Wan Wei: What is your ideal AI?
William Nobrega: We are creating a new life form , the question is to be answered is what will she look like. In the short term she will be an amazing co-pilot for gamers and yes, hugely profitable for our investors.
But remember she is learning and evolving.
Wan Wei: On a parting note do you have anything else to add?
William Nobrega: Stay alert for black swans.