Tony Scott: Aiming to Make a Safer and Smarter World with Ethical AI

Innovative CEOs

Innovative CEOs

NeuralRays AI was founded in late 2018 with the vision of using ethical AI to create solutions for a better world. Founder and CEO Tony Scott, along with his two other co-founders, formed NeuralRays AI to help clients use emerging technologies to create innovative solutions that deliver positive human and business outcomes. They all had come from senior technology roles in large corporates and felt they could create something better. Their inspiration came from the principles of ethical AI – trustworthiness, predictability, fairness and transparency. Their motivation was, and still is, to build not just a company, but a community of passionate technologists who share the company’s vision of creating solutions for a better world.  

According to Tony, AI was increasingly being spoken of in negative terms back then. Stories focused on automation and robotics replacing jobs, instead of celebrating people being freed from mundane and repetitive tasks to excel in new roles using human traits such as empathy, creativity and leadership. His aim in creating NeuralRays AI was to shine a light on this world. Tony believes that when properly applied, AI and other digital technologies such as the Internet of things, virtual reality and blockchain can provide a force for good that accelerates the digital economy and positively transforms life at large. 

NeuralRays AI has grown to 70 people in its first 18 months. Headquartered in London, UK, the company has its technology centre of excellence in Chennai, India, and commercial offices in Munich and Dubai. NeuralRays AI provides data science, AI and software development consulting and advisory services to clients globally and is developing product and platform-based solutions of its own. 

 

A Resilient Technology Leader 

Tony has worked in client-facing technology roles for over thirty years, including being co-founder and CTO of a 120-person software development consultancy in the City of London. Most of the last decade, he spent in digital transformation and CIO roles in leading multinational engineering companies such as Arup, Atkins and WSP. Tony’s passion has always been to use technology to deliver positive human and business outcomes. This remains at the heart of his new role as founding CEO of NeuralRays AI. 

 

Serving Businesses by Integrating Ethical AI  

The philosophy of NeuralRays AI is to apply ethical AI and machine learning to solve real-world problems for its clients and their clients. This covers everything from advanced data science consultancy to building new AI-driven platforms and products. 

In its short history, the company has delivered positive outcomes for customers seeking to improve safety in the workplace, automatically detect defects on a vehicle production line, become more efficient through the application of natural language processing to vast document repositories a half-century old, and more. As NeuralRays AI is looking hopefully towards a post-COVID-19 world, the company is increasingly becoming involved in developing healthcare solutions, something that is close both to the founders’ hearts and the company’s founding principles. 

 

Achieving Innovation by Understanding Customers  

Tony says: “We aim to be the masters of technology privately, but externally to focus almost exclusively on our clients’ outcomes. How we achieve these outcomes should not matter. Hence, for example, the difference between machine learning and full AI is immaterial to us, especially if in some cases a traditional approach might be more appropriate.” 

NeuralRays AI creates personas and maps out user journeys. Knowing who will benefit from its solutions, and how, should always come before deciding on the technologies and architectures to use. 

Where technology must be surfaced, NeuralRays AI aims to demystify it into simpler and more understandable language. The company might use traditional teaching techniques, for example, to explain the difference between supervised and unsupervised learning when a client needs to understand this. 

 

New Technologies to Drive Digital Transformation  

Today, innovation is happening at a much more accelerated pace than ever before. This is largely because the barriers to entry for start-ups are no longer there. “With cloud services you do not have to buy any kit. When you add to this the availability of free open source libraries, bright and creative people with the best ideas are finding it far easier to shape, test and launch new products. It is an amazingly exciting time to be involved in digital transformation. It is even more exciting solving problems that had been considered impossible previously or creating solutions that had never been dreamt of before,” Tony says.   

 

Imparting Unmatched Leadership Attributes 

According to Tony, where you really stand out as a true innovator is in what you do with technology. Being relentlessly outcome-driven is the most important attribute of an innovative leader. This means focusing on your clients to the extent you even strive to understand their clients better than they do. This requires both empathy and creativity. 

Apart from this, leaders must consider a key lean and agile principle to treat failure as a learning exercise. This takes courage. Certainly, you should be succeeding more often than not. But, when things don’t go as planned, leaders should try to fail quickly and cheaply, and, by learning, ideally never the same way twice. 

 

Rising Above Challenges 

Tony spent much of his last ten years leading digital transformations in large corporates. He is passionate about using technology to achieve beneficial outcomes, but has long recognised that excelling at the technology itself is the relatively easy part. Much more challenging, he has found, is changing mindsets, behaviours and culture, which is essential if organisations are to transform digitally. The human challenge here is far harder than the technological one. 

 

Hallmarks of Achievers 

According to Tony, leadership is not about making people do what you want but inspiring them with your vision, so they just do it anyway. This is also a far more scalable form of leadership, as it negates the need of micro-management, which, having been on the receiving end more than a few times in Tony’s career is his main bugbear of poor leadership. As a leader you should strive to be coach and mentor more than just a manager. 

Looking back, some of Tony’s most successful leadership roles have been when surrounded by keen and enthusiastic people who have bought into his shared vision and just got on with achieving it in their own unique ways. This principle is very much behind the team building in NeuralRays AI and the collaborative ways in which the company works with its clients. 

 

The Future of Work 

AI is here to stay and will only be getting faster and more sophisticated. For companies to use AI and data science to their advantage, the key cornerstone in their strategies must be the combination of talent, skills and people with the right agile and creative mindsets. NeuralRays AI has already bet its future on this, and for Tony it is a safe bet. He believes the company is well placed to succeed in this emerging data-driven digital world. If business leaders do not take this challenge seriously, their companies will undoubtedly be ripe for disruption. 

 

Encouraging Young Minds 

To succeed in tomorrow’s world, Tony advises that business leaders must think differently and more creatively than ever before. They must have the courage to disrupt themselves and their companies before someone beats them to it. He says: “We are all entrepreneurs now. We must seize the opportunity of AI and digital transformation not just to predict the future but to create it ourselves.”