Creative problem solving skills. Many problems exist, and many solutions to these problems are not satisfactory. Chatbots had a major PR problem in that most consumers have had very poor experiences with earlier generation chatbots. We applied generative AI to the customer success chatbot and have found customer satisfaction and chatbot usage do not need to be mutually exclusive. Finding broken solutions and learning how to use AI to solve them is a key skill to have when working in AI.
Artificial Intelligence is now the leading edge of technology, driving unprecedented advancements across sectors. From healthcare to finance, education to environment, the AI industry is witnessing a skyrocketing demand for professionals. However, the path to creating a successful career in AI is multifaceted and constantly evolving. What does it take and what does one need in order to create a highly successful career in AI?
In this interview series, we are talking to successful AI professionals, AI founders, AI CEOs, educators in the field, AI researchers, HR managers in tech companies, and anyone who holds authority in the realm of Artificial Intelligence to inspire and guide those who are eager to embark on this exciting career path.
As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ashu Dubey.
Ashu Dubey is CEO and Co-Founder of Gleen, a leading generative AI-based customer support solution. As a serial AI entrepreneur, Ashu previously was CTO and Co-Founder of 12 Labs, an early pioneer in AI-powered personalized health recommendations. Ashu also was a key product leader at LinkedIn, where he significantly accelerated user growth and was instrumental in launching innovative products such as LinkedIn Events.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would like to learn a bit about your origin story. Can you share with us a bit about your childhood and how you grew up?
Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue a career path in AI?
I have always been fascinated with ‘building’ things and product development. The most innovative product development these days happens within the tech industry. As I was working at LinkedIn, I started to learn more about AI and the power of it. I started thinking about all of the applications it could have in various industries and what problems it could solve. When we started building Gleen, we initially were working with Web3 & Crypto businesses, supporting their customer service goals.
Then, GPT-4 hit the market. This kind of advancement in large language models (LLMs) opened up a world of possibilities. We started building generative AI chatbots and deploying them with our customers. The feedback we received gave us the impetus to pivot our business and focus solely on building highly accurate, generative AI-based customer success bots. From there, it’s been a journey of working closely with our early customers and making sure our solution delights them at every step of the journey.
Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
One overarching project that we’ve been obsessed with is solving the chatbot hallucination problem. As you and your readers are aware, one of the biggest roadblocks to widespread adoption of generative AI is the tendency to hallucinate, or just make things up.
What most people don’t realize is that, while hallucination is an intrinsic problem of LLMs, it doesn’t have to be a problem for chatbots. So we decided to build a comprehensive generative AI solution that eliminates hallucination and maximizes the relevance of generative chatbot responses. Our customers love it. In fact, LLMs now represent only about 20% of our tech stack, and we’re also completely LLM agnostic.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Of course, the person that comes to my mind is my co-founder and CTO , Nagendra, with whom I went to school and now working on Gleen. He has been instrumental in turning ideas into tangible products. There are many engineers in the world who can build quick prototypes and there are also many people in the world who can build highly scalable systems. But, the people who have ‘both` skills are extremely rare. Nagendra is one of those rare species.
As with any career path, the AI industry comes with its own set of challenges. Could you elaborate on some of the significant challenges you faced in your AI career and how you managed to overcome them?
In the beginning AI was moving at such a breakneck speed (it still is) that whatever you built over the week became obsolete over the weekend. It almost felt like trying to build a house on a moving ground.
Then I spoke with one of my investors. He mentioned he had seen a few such waves in the past: mobile and saas being the two of them. He felt that companies that anchored themselves to their customer problems would win, eventually. That was a liberating moment for me and my co-founder. We knew what to do. Since then, our mantra is that we are not married to a technology, but to our customer’s problems.
Ok, let’s now move to the main part of our interview about AI. What are the 3 things that most excite you about the AI industry now? Why?
3 things that most excite me about AI:
1. The speed of change: There is an incredible amount of innovation occurring in AI daily, and anytime there is that level of creativity and problem-solving happening, it’s exciting. It reminds me of when the Web was first popularized.
2. The speed of adoption: I’m also excited by all the different industries that are adopting generative AI and the different use cases that are emerging. Our customers often ask us, “Hey, could we use Gleen AI to do this?” and we often say, “Yes, that’s a terrific idea.”
3. The relatability: We’re all customers of something, and we’ve all experienced bad customer service. Great customer service that can be delivered in real-time, 24/7/365 — that’s something that I think we can all relate to and be excited by.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why? What should be done to address and alleviate those concerns?
The concerns about AI seem to come from a lack of awareness and information. I read a study not long ago that the people in jobs experiencing AI are looking at it to improve their work life, while those in roles without experience with AI view it negatively. One other thing that bothers me is the narrative surrounding it. Generative AI is not built to replace people, but rather to help them and reduce repetitive tasks. I do have concerns about unethical deployment of AI and believe that there need to be guardrails in place to protect consumers, specifically regarding data privacy.
For a young person who would like to eventually make a career in AI, which skills and subjects do they need to learn?
I would definitely recommend young folks to get their hands dirty with the different AI tools out there. No matter what you want to do, there is likely a new AI tool that can make you more productive. Use that. This would also give you an idea of potential opportunities in this space.
I think `AI-native` will be as common-term as mobile-native was in the past. Be AI-native!
On specific skills, it really depend on the field someone wants to work in. If you want to build AI tools, then engineering and programming skills will be something you want to focus on. If you are in marketing and sales, you’ll need to develop your skills around prompt engineering to make the most efficient use of AI. I think that every career will eventually need to develop some skills around AI, much, in the same way, everyone needed to learn some level of computer skills years ago.
As you know, there are not that many women in the AI industry. Can you advise what is needed to engage more women in the AI industry?
This has been an issue in tech for a long time. Right now is a crucial moment in time to get it right. We are already seeing new LLMs forking out of the existing ones. Newer forks carry with them the biases of the base forks. Generative AI has been accused of promoting bias. This is because many LLMs and other generative AIs train on the entire internet, filled with biased information. Having women — and, in general, a more diverse employee pool — working in AI would help the industry find ways to curb bias.
Ethical AI development is a pressing concern in the industry. How do you approach the ethical implications of AI, and what steps do you believe individuals and organizations should take to ensure responsible and fair AI practices?
We at Gleen have a strong stance on this. We firmly believe that consumers have a right to know when they are interacting with an AI chatbot, and this should be disclosed upfront. Generative AI chatbots should work seamlessly with humans, not be used to replace them. This is why Gleen AI chatbots are able to escalate customer issues to a human member of the customer success team. All generative AI chatbot conversations should be treated with confidentiality, and any data in the system should not be transferred to a third party unless a consumer gives express consent.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share the “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The AI Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
1 . Creative problem solving skills. Many problems exist, and many solutions to these problems are not satisfactory. Chatbots had a major PR problem in that most consumers have had very poor experiences with earlier generation chatbots. We applied generative AI to the customer success chatbot and have found customer satisfaction and chatbot usage do not need to be mutually exclusive. Finding broken solutions and learning how to use AI to solve them is a key skill to have when working in AI.
2 . The mindset of a growth hacker. At the rapid pace of development, if you’re planning on a career working in AI development, thinking like a growth hacker will take you a long way. Almost everything works at the pace needed in startup companies, so work ethic will be a key factor in success. Try many experiments, and fail fast. You never know what works and what doesn’t.
3 . The ability to pivot quickly. This was instrumental in our success. As I alluded to earlier, we were deep into a business model when we saw a way to improve our services to customers. Once we saw that there was potential for growth in basing our company on our generative AI solution, we completely shifted focus. Stagnation will make a career in AI very short-lived.
4 . Focus. The huge problems, the big ones, are already being worked on by the big tech companies like Google and Microsoft. It helps to narrow your focus and strive to solve a problem that might seem small, but is still widely experienced, and solving the problem is of potentially high value. This is where careers can be made.
5 . Joy. generative AI — and start-ups in general — is hard work. As with any new industry or technology, there will be a lot of trial and error, and more error than success. If you find that you really love it, then the hard work won’t seem like work at all, but will almost feel like a hobby.
Continuous learning and upskilling are vital in a dynamic field like AI. How do you approach ongoing education and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the AI industry? What advice do you have for those looking to grow their careers in AI?
I have had many ex-colleagues ask me this question. The advice I give to them is two-fold:
One is to be curious about new developments in AI and try to know what people at the frontier are working on. You can do this by following the right people on LinkedIn and Twitter, subscribing the right substacks etc.
Second is to surround yourself with folks who are equally curious in the same areas. This has a compound effect on learning which you won’t get if you are doing it alone.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
“Play long-term games with long-term people.” I try to live by this as much as possible. If you think long-term and behave long-term, by definition, you will do things right and engender trust. Trust and credibility compound over the years and can be a real force in personal and professional life. I have known my current co-founder for 19 years. My previous co-founder, Durga, I knew him for 10 years already when we started together on 12 labs. He is building a fantastic company at Subskribe, and we still meet regularly.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Responsible AI has been a major theme and as I work more in AI, I get a deeper understanding as to how important it truly is. Reckless implementation with no guardrails can easily do more harm than good. As brands, our goal should be to elevate people, not find ways to eliminate them from their roles. I firmly believe that if we deploy AI responsibly and invest in education to help team members upskill, we will all see tremendous benefits. I see a lot being said about ethical AI but not a lot of talk about what we need to do to ensure that it is made a reality.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I am active on Twitter @dubeyism and also on LinkedIn. One very cool thing we have done is design a playground where users can build and launch their own generative AI chatbot on our website and then install it on theirs, which is the best way to learn about Gleen.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Ashu Dubey of Gleen On Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The AI Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.