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Blake Dowling: Disruption and artificial intelligence

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Uber, Netflix, Amazon Go, Legal Robot, Watson, Einstein, Starship … all examples of disruption and the artificial intelligence that is changing the legal, medical and business world every day.

Maybe you have heard of some (or all) of them; they all have an interesting story.

Whether it’s a smart grocery store, robot doctor or automated delivery service, these entities — along with many other — bring to the table constant innovation, as well as disruption.

I will focus on two, so I will not bore you with a novel.

No. 1 on the list is Einstein. Do you run staff meetings? Work with campaign volunteers, lobbyists, sales people or agency directors? Regardless of which world you find yourself in, some of those around you may be too grim, too optimistic, or will just tell you what you want to hear.

Each week, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff holds a Monday morning staff meeting with his top execs. After hearing reports, Benioff turns to his advisers and asks them what they think.

This is pretty normal behavior, except that adviser is a robot named Einstein.

For a CEO, typically the way it works is, of course, you have various people, mostly politicians and bureaucrats, in your staff meeting who are telling you what they want to tell you to kind of get you to believe what they want you to believe. Einstein comes without bias. So, because it’s just based on the data, it’s a very exciting next-generation tool” Benioff says (quoted in Business Insider).

Does this mean the days of assistants is gone? Political Advisers? Police? Would you rather have an unbiased fact machine or a human who might be biased, racist, drunk, call in sick, moan and groan, take vacations and embellish. Or an automated 24/7 powerhouse of truth, which sees all as-is?

Let the debate begin.

Moving on to the grocery store.

No long ago, I wrote about the Amazon Go concept store, where the grocery game will soon change again thanks to Simbre, an outfit out of Cali with a product called Tally.

Tally is a supply chain efficiency guru, roaming the aisles, stocking items, confirming prices, yanking out-of-stock items; tasks that a human does now.

Is this a concept you may be thinking? Negative, it is a reality. A small chain in the Midwest called Schnuks Groceries is right now rolling out a six-week demo right now.

Results of this demo could have a profound effect on the entire industry, with cost savings plus a surge in efficiency that will put Schnuks on the worldwide map in a big way.

Publix and Kroger execs will be baffled by the beat down by these innovative upstarts. Or they will claim they came up with the idea. Hopefully, Schnuks doesn’t get snookered.

As Picasso once said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

That’s it for today, campers. I hope all this talk of disruption and innovation hasn’t spooked you too much. If you happen to be in St. Louis, go to 6600 Clayton Road in Richmond Heights and check out Tally cruising the aisles. I wonder if you can hack Tally?

Sounds like a column for next time; I can see the headline now: “Robot destroys Twinkies and stores reputation.” Clean up on aisle 4, indeed.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at [email protected]. Dowling is a firm supporter of Showtime broadcasting college football games with comedians Adam Sandler and Katt Williams providing commentary. The end.

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at

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