As you’ll have noted from our coverage, as far as startup land is concerned, AI is hot, hot, hot.
Meanwhile, the lean methodology — think of a hypothesis, test it, iterate on it — has been canon for entrepreneurs and founders the world over for the past decade. But AI will most likely play a role in building startups faster, cheaper and more efficiently. So I asked the man who invented the concept of the lean startup, Steve Blank, to see what he thinks.
AI might not have started with ChatGPT, but the ability for the general public to interact with generative AI on a wide scale did. But even still, Blank says we’re collectively underestimating the potential of generative AI.
“I’m surprised no one has done a parody of actually reviewing a three-month-old baby,” Blank said, “and saying all it does is poop in its pants, and it can’t even finish complete sentences, rather than going, ‘Holy shit! This is like the first week of this thing’s life!’ and we really don’t realize it.”
And, just like a three-month-old, nobody can fully predict what ChatGPT has in store for us next. “Copilot has changed the life of every programmer, period, who writes software,” Blank said. “It’s probably increased productivity by 50%, and that’s if you’re using it poorly. That’s a mind-blower.”
Blank highlights how AI-assisted research has made leaps of progress in the form of AlphaFold, a project that is trying to translate proteins into their three-dimensional structures, which can help us understand processes in the body, including aging. AI, obviously, goes far beyond, and we’ve only just started to see the tremendous evolution that will span all sciences. Blank might be on to something: Just last week, researchers at University College, London and Moorfields Eye Hospital in the U.K. identified markers for Parkinson’s disease in eye scans using AI.
That kind of diagnosis might’ve taken years without the help of AI.
Blank is wide-eyed about where it can yet go, considering how much money is being thrown at AI projects without much VC scrutiny. And to him, the concept of the “lean startup” is about to change forever. “I just think it’s going to be an amazing ride,” he said. “Part of the amazing ride, let’s go back to the VC part, is that the dumb money is just poured into it. Think about it: There’s probably 10,000 experiments being run with capital. It’s not 10,000 experiments being run in your basement; there’s a ton of stuff that’s been thrown against the wall to see if any bit sticks.”