Ben Lamm, the CEO and founder of Hypergiant, reveals what he has learned from aiming to create positive and sustainable change.
The following is a discussion with Ben Lamm, the CEO and founder of Hypergiant — a machine learning solutions company creating intelligent and disruptive software to help the Fortune 500 innovate with breakthrough technologies.
Springwise spotted Hypergiant back in March after it created a bio-reactor which uses AI to optimise algae growth and carbon sequestration.
The bioreactor draws on machine intelligence to create the optimal conditions for the algae to grow. Through continuous monitoring, the system adjusts the light, temperature, pH levels and bio-density. It also controls CO inputs to desired harvest cycles. With this method, the system is 400 per cent more effective at absorbing CO2 than trees.
1. What change does Hypergiant want to facilitate and why is it important?
Hypergiant wants to deliver on the future we were promised. What this means is that we want to help create a more just, equitable, interesting, and technologically advanced world. We believe that core to this is safeguarding and securing three primary areas: critical infrastructure, defence and space. So, we are very focused on improving those core areas so that we can have a better future.
2. How has your background shaped your work for Hypergiant? Also, how do you think that practising Shoshin affects your professional life?
Editor’s note: Lamm applies the practice of Shoshin to all his projects. Shoshin, also known as “beginner’s mind”, is a concept from Zen Buddhism that refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.
I have worked across a variety of industries including video games, e-learning and AI. In all of those, I was working at the forefront of technology. In each of these areas, I chose to look at the industry not from what has happened but from what could happen. That’s where Shoshin is important. In everything, I think of myself as a beginner and adopt beginner thinking. It allows me to access the conversation differently and create products that are new and novel.
3. What role do you think machine intelligence can play in creating sustainable futures?
First off, humans create sustainable futures. Machine intelligence (ML) can help humans who are focused on creating sustainable futures apply smart computational predictive tools to potentially do that work better. ML cannot solve the world’s problems if we do not have the social and cultural desires to solve the world’s problems first.
4. Where did the idea of using AI to optimize algae growth come from and what inspired you to materialize it?
This was rather simple for the team. We were looking for climate change solutions where we could apply AI and robotics to a currently established program in order to improve it. When we scanned potential options the bioreactor was one of the most obvious solutions for AI application. Building on the great research of others, we were able to apply our AI and robotic specialists to the problem and help advance the green photobioreactor industry as well as build a modular system we could begin to roll out.
5. What potential do you think the future holds for algae-preneurs?
The future is massive. Algae is a renewable resource that we have only begun to really tap into. We wrote an interesting white paper on the topic last fall that highlighted a number of different companies leading the way with food, cosmetics, fabric, fuel and more. But if we extrapolate even further, we are in talks about putting a version of our bioreactor into space and using algae as a potential resource in long-manned mission flights. It’s one of those resources that just has a huge amount of potential.
6. While using technology to create carbon-neutral models is applaudable, is it enough?
We all must take a lot more action. We have ten years and need to start now before it gets too late. All industries and companies must think about how to become carbon negative and climate positive in literally every single way that they can. This is not a business problem, this is a survival of our species problem. One technology isn’t going to save the world. We need a combination of efforts across all industries.
7. When it comes to being a business, do you think the planet and profits can co-exist?
I think we have to or there will be much fewer profits in a dangerously out of control planet. However, we know this: the climate crisis is bad for the bottom line. It creates a massive negative financial impact on businesses that we must find a way to address. The effects of climate change could cost businesses nearly $1 trillion (€890 million) in the next five years. That’s enormous and will have long term big consequences.
8. So, what’s next? Where do you aspire Hypergiant to be in five years, and how will you get there?
We want to be the leading cutting edge AI innovation company for a long time. To do that we are growing at scale, engaging with top companies and government enterprises, hiring the best talent and continuing to innovate in new and novel areas of tech while striving to be a company contributing to the greater good. If along the way, we can inspire other companies to also help deliver the collective future we were promised, then we will have done our job.
9. Do you have any other thoughts or wise words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be curious and embrace a beginner’s mindset as a core principle in the path to innovation. Just never stop chasing the quest for knowledge.
Written By: Katrina Lane
9th July 2020