The Hong Kong-based Deep Knowledge Ventures says VITAL is the first artificial intelligence to be appointed to a corporate board of directors.
The naming of a person to a company's board of directors is not normally something that we'd bother with but this case is different because the person being named is not actually a person at all, but a machine. VITAL [Validating Investment Tool for Advancing Life Sciences] was announced as the newest member of the Deep Knowledge Ventures capital fund board of directors last week, in what the company said was a "world first in board appointments and venture capital."
"The variables involved in the long-term success of a biotechnology company are many and complex. We were attracted to a software tool that could in large part automate due diligence and use historical data-sets to uncover trends that are not immediately obvious to humans surveying top-line data," Deep Knowledge Ventures Senior Partner Dmitry Kaminskiy said in a statement. "We plan to incorporate new information from prospective investments into the databases to compare the outcomes against our selected investments."
"Due to lack of public disclosure datasets on investment rounds, intellectual property and clinical trial outcomes are not always available," added Andrew Garazha, senior analyst at Aging Analytics, the firm that created VITAL. "In spite of this our team of programmers - several of which have theoretical physics backgrounds - are able to use fuzzy logic to identify probable success based upon an extensive analysis of the parameters involved. Our goal through iterative releases and updates is to create a piece of software that is capable of making autonomous investment decisions."
It's obviously a bit of stunt casting for attention, but DKV echoed Garazha's statement that the long term goal is to develop the software to a point where it can operate "autonomously." To demonstrate its commitment to that goal, DKV decided to give VITAL a vote on investment decisions equal to that of flesh-and-blood board members, although Kaminskiy clarified with Betabeat that there won't literally be a computer sitting at the table during meetings.
"Humans are emotional and subjective. They can make mistakes, but unlike the machines they can make brilliant intuitive decisions," he said. "Machines like VITAL use only logic. The intuition of the human investors together with machine's logic with give a perfect collaborative team. The risk of the mistake will be minimized."
Call me paranoid if you will, but I have a feeling that "the risk of the mistake" is greater than any of us could possibly imagine.