GenAI 101 Course: Introduction – Is The Hype Real This Time?

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January 23, 2024
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6 min read
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Ever find yourself wanting to dive into the world of artificial intelligence, but unsure of where to start? We took the liberty of curating a learning journey... just for you.

  • How significant is this technological window of innovation, and should I be paying attention?
  • What is an "AI Winter"?

Today, we're incredibly excited to introduce one of our latest projects: GenAI 101. Featuring a deeper dive into the recent artificial intelligence craze (though not altogether novel, as some of you already know), our brand-new, five-day GenAI 101 Course is your exclusive gateway to understanding, creating, and unleashing the power of this incredible technology.

Whether you're a tech enthusiast, creative mind, or just curious about the cutting-edge of AI, this course is designed for you. Join us on this exhilarating journey, and let's explore the endless possibilities of Generative AI together!

"At the foundational level, computers perceive and process everything as numbers. For AI models, whether they're handling text for chatbots, images for computer vision, or audio for voice recognition, the core process remains consistent."

Tim Smith - Partner, Bee Partners

Read more about the genesis of this idea below, or head straight to our course to start learning!


TL;DR

What began as a means to help support our portfolio companies in transitioning to AI, eventually turned into taking courses on Large Language Models (LLMs), writing our own code, and even participating in hackathons all across San Francisco. The goal? Understand the potential application of Generative AI (GenAI) given the specific circumstances of a given portfolio company.

The result: A well-balanced, curated mix of history, theory, and hands-on programming resulting in something like a "101 certification" that serves as a great baseline for further acceleration of GenAI within your company. Our GenAI 101 Course, comprising six major sections, becomes a guide for anyone eager to grasp the essentials of this transformative technology.

Where Do We Begin?

Historical Context

First, we must embark on a fascinating journey through the rich history of artificial intelligence (AI), where each previous era unfolds with its unique set of challenges and breakthroughs. Its inception was marked in the 1950s but rapidly evolved such that the world witnessed the birth of symbolic AI and expert systems a mere decade later. However, as the 1970s began, AI suddenly was forced to navigate a new challenge, something later coined an "AI Winter".

This new (and what would become a recurring) phenomenon, represented a period marked by diminished funding and waning interest in AI research. The 1970s marked the first of a cyclical pattern unfolding through hype cycles, dashed expectations, ensuing criticism, funding contractions, and eventual resurgences—often spanning years or even decades.

It wasn't until the dawn of the 1980s that a revival of expert systems paved the way for the popularization of back-propagation in neural networks. As we progressed to the 1990s, we witnessed the traction gained by machine learning, leading to the eventual rise of data in the 2000s.

Then vs. Now

As of today, in 2024, we have arguably officially entered the golden age of AI, ushered in by an astounding run of developments in generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) that were not previously available.

It's happening fast.

Here at Bee, we hold a core belief that focuses our investment calculus–Machines Will Win and that how they win is up to us. In fact, in many cases (and growing), machines already have won. Hence, the importance, in our opinion, of helping steer that evolution where we can via investment and guidance.

Our journey began by setting aside all the white papers and hyperbolic articles we were consuming to roll up our sleeves and experience as much as we could by building since we are wired as a team of founders as much as we are investors. Eventually, we began encouraging our own portfolio companies to do the same: learn by building, not just reading. To accelerate the process and thus these teams, we designed what has now become the GenAI 101 Course. And yes, we are methodically conducting briefings with our portfolio companies using this very content.


Did you know that MIT created the first official chatbot in 1966? It was commonly referred to as Eliza and you can still interact with it right here!


Reassurance To Anyone Less 'Tech Savvy'

Venturing into the realm of AI might seem like embarking on an uncharted odyssey, with nebulous fears lingering on the horizon. However, let us assure you: understanding AI need not be an intimidating journey. Think of it as exploring a fascinating new frontier, where curiosity is your compass, and each concept is a discovery waiting to unfold.

We encourage you to approach AI with a sense of curiosity and excitement. It's not about unraveling an enigma but rather deciphering the language of innovation. From machine learning to neural networks, AI demystifies itself through logical constructs and algorithms–tools that more people than ever can wield to shape the future (even without significant background or experience).

The Course Itself

There are six major sections of this program. We outline a five-day/one-week proposition for a designated “ambassador” to follow, which links to appropriate materials in the following sections. While the program may be followed and reviewed in a single week, the other sections can be useful as reference sections on an ongoing basis and during rollout to your company.

The objective is simple: we've distilled a lot of our initial learning around this extraordinary technological window of innovation we're living in and tried to package it into a plan that is both focused and time-capped. Not too deep, not too shallow–just a solid starting point.

We intend to do our best to keep these materials relatively “current” but still introductory in scope as these technologies continue to rapidly evolve. We hope you will join us, and we eagerly look forward to what we can all achieve together through this incredible technology.


3 Key Takeaways:

  • The potential for AI is understood or at least tantalizing: We are seeing rapid amounts of anticipated adoption in businesses in a myriad of industries and sectors, particularly around Large Language Models (LLMs)
  • Those who don't experiment or adopt will be left behind: This technology is made up of dynamic and evolving building blocks, and the only way to stay up to speed is by going deep, staying open-minded, and being light on your feet
  • The only way to avoid disillusionment is by using education to bridge the "reality vs. expectations" gap: We began our journey internally focused, but once we received immensely positive feedback from our portfolio companies as we aided their transition into AI, it became clear that we needed to share it externally–and here we are.

Click here to learn more about the Bee Partners and the Team, or here if you are a Founder innovating in any of our three vectors.


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