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DeepFest 2024 speaker Alvin Graylin (China President and Global VP of Corporate Development at HTC) has a great depth of experience in emerging technologies – and he firmly believes that AI will solve the biggest challenges faced by immersive technologies and extended reality (XR) spaces.
His next book, Our New Reality, will be available in March 2024 – exploring how our new age of computing can enable a more magical experience of life on our planet, if it’s managed well.
Graylin told us how he got to where he is today, and what he wishes he’d done differently earlier in his career. Spoiler: it involves reading more books.
Could you share your career journey so far, and any pivotal moments along the way?
“I've been fortunate that I was able to immigrate to the US from China in 1980 and watch the entire PC, internet, mobile and immersive computing eras develop. I started programming at nine, and first was exposed to AI/neural networks in undergrad at the University of Washington, and later expanded my understanding of the realm at MIT when pursuing my masters in CS. I first studied VR at the Human Interface Technology Lab in the early 1990's under VR pioneer Tom Furness.
“I've founded four different venture-backed startups during my career and three were related to AI technologies, while one was focused on Augmented Reality. One of my startups offered the first natural language mobile search service in China in 2005, which was licensed by all three Chinese mobile carriers – and was the official search service for the Beijing Olympics.
“I have also worked in venture and corporate investing, where I've invested in over 100 companies, and most were based on AI and XR related technologies. Over the last eight years, I've led the China business for HTC and have directly participated in the conception, development and launch of numerous innovative immersive devices and services that drove the market forward.”
What's most exciting to you about the convergence of AI and immersive technologies?
“I've been involved with both spaces for over 30 years, and it's exciting for me to finally see both spaces mature and converge almost simultaneously. These two technologies are completely complementary and will help fill the gaps and issues of each other, leading to a more positive outcome for society.
“AI will solve the biggest issue the XR space faces by democratising content creation and bringing its cost to near zero. And immersive technologies will enable unlimited virtual worlds to give an outlet for the energy and renewed purpose to the billions of displaced workers that AI will create in the coming decade due to its massive gains in productivity.
“If we take the right actions to properly prepare for this shift, the world can be a much more abundant and peaceful place, but we need to take the right actions. More details are in my coming book, Our Next Reality.”
“AI related technologies have been a major part of almost all aspects of enabling immersive computing to be possible. Motion tracking, hand tracking, voice interactions, spatial scanning, and procedural world generation would all not be possible without AI.
“Going forward, more advanced LLMs and LMMs will play an even larger role as they will make automated world creation and character creation possible, enabling endless fantastical and realistic worlds we can explore, learn and work in.”
If you could go back to the beginning of your career and tell yourself one thing you wish you'd known then, what would it be?
“I would have told myself to focus less on grades and put more time to read and expand my understanding outside my narrow field. I currently read 80+ books a year for the last couple of decades, but I wish I had started it when I was younger.
“Having a broad base of knowledge is key to finding new connections amongst the information we receive each day and provides a level of understanding not possible when we only go deep in one area. This is why LLM/LMMs are able to do so many amazing things, because more emergent capabilities arise the more we know.”
And finally, why are events like DeepFest valuable to you?
“Humans are innately social animals and being able to directly interact and learn from experts in their field is both stimulating and educational. DeepFest has gathered some of the best minds in the world on some terribly important topics, and I can't wait to go and absorb the knowledge and insights they offer.”
Find Alvin Graylin on LinkedIn – and join us at DeepFest 2024 to learn more from him.
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