For more than four decades, the best part of my work has always been the great people I’ve met, worked with, and sometimes just watched from afar. Two of those people are spearheading two separate efforts, each of which I think merits your attention. Read on for more, and for invitations to be part of both.
Dan Turchin: A Pioneer of People-Centric, Business-Ready AI
I met Dan when we both worked for ServiceNow, before that company went public and became the market-leading, high-profile cloud computing juggernaut it deservedly is today. Dan is one of those people I’ve always strived to be — a techno-geek, but one with people skills. Dan’s just got way more tech skills than I, and has actually built both commercial software and a company or two.
Dan and I reconnected when he was a co-founder of a startup called Astound.ai. Astound’s initial focus was on software agents powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and designed to help automate the handling of worker requests and support issues. The founding team undertook a reorganization and refocusing, which has resulted in a new company with Dan as CEO and a new name: PeopleReign.
In case the name doesn’t make the company’s intentions clear, here’s a tag line taken directly from the company web site: “Artificial intelligence is defining the future of work. In that future, bytes inspire but people reign.” To my mind, this is a great summary of the company mission, and of Dan’s most impressive professional and personal strengths.
On Wednesday, July 15, at noon US Eastern time, Dan and the PeopleReign team are launching a new virtual agent for ServiceNow. Designed to handle human resources (HR) and information technology (IT) requests and issues, this new agent comes trained to answer about 1 million questions in natural language, out of the (virtual) box. It also enables administration of machine language (ML) algorithms with no coding required.
This won’t be just another product launch. To my mind, it will be a tantalizing glimpse into a, if not the, future of how help and service requests get managed. And if you attend the online launch event, then decide to acquire the solution for your organization, you can even get an “event-attendees-only” discount. To register or for more information, here’s your “Friend of @DortchOnIT” link: http://peoplereign.io/webcast?utm_source=Alcor&utm_medium=email,%20newsletter,%20social%20media&utm_campaign=webcast.
Steve Kirsch: A Faster Route to COVID-19 Treatments?
When I was an undergraduate at MIT back in the early 1970s, I and other undergraduates taught free classes in basically whatever we wanted, to area high school students willing to make the trek to and from campus. One of those students was a young Steve Kirsch. I didn’t have many interactions with him. Just enough to know that he was very likely one of those kids. You know. MIT after high school. Inventions. (The optical mouse, for just one.) Successful serial entrepreneurship. Philanthropy. And so on.
Steve didn’t disappoint. At one point in the cultivation of his life and career, Steve was stricken with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a rare type of blood cancer. So naturally, he collaborated with and funded top scientists, and they came up with an experimental treatment that worked. A treatment built primarily with drugs that already existed, making the treatment faster and cheaper than designing or discovering new drugs.
Steve wants to apply a similar approach to the search for drugs to fight COVID-19. He’s already formed the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund (CETF), which is focusing on funding research into and outpatient clinical trials of existing antiviral drugs to find effective preventative treatments.
You can read more about Steve and CETF in this great Forbes profile. But here’s the bottom line: CETF needs money. Steve estimates about $20 to $30 million would kick investigation and testing of existing drugs into high gear. And given the success of his own personal experience, I bet Steve and the CETF team will do something incredibly valuable in the multifaceted efforts required to combat COVID-19 effectively.
Give if you can. Please. Here’s the link: http://www.treatearly.org/donate. And if you or someone you know can donate $1 million or more, I would be honored to connect you with Steve.
Innovation: Inspiration and Perspiration
Transformation always begins with hard-working visionaries. As the 19th-century French journalist, novelist, and playwright Émile Zola said, “the artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.” Dan and Steve both have vision, and that vision ignites the passion that drives the willingness to do the work. I am inspired by each of them. I thought you just might be, too.