Interested to be in the frontline of AI?
It’s estimated that by 2025, more than 85 million jobs will be replaced by AI. The potential and power of AI technology are still largely undiscovered territories, and the race is on to explore and shape this exciting frontier. Amidst this technological upheaval, I find myself, not as a spectator, but as an active participant, trying to play my part in this evolving field.
The Struggle to find “what I want”
Hi, my name is Sam Darmali; I graduated from law school at the University of Bristol and later found my passion leading me toward the fascinating world of technology, specifically artificial intelligence.
This journey of mine hasn’t been straightforward or simple.
I’ve always believed that embracing life is all about discovering passion and having the courage to pursue it.
But what is it that I want in life?
In my final year of law school, I found an unexpected interest – coding. The way simple lines of code could transform into something functional, something tangible, was nothing short of beautiful to me.
My journey into the world of programming was primarily self-taught. Of course, I took online courses, but the true learning came from getting my hands dirty, and building and tweaking my own projects.
As if juggling the demanding workload of law school wasn’t punishment enough, I found myself spending countless hours in my dorm room, completely engrossed in this new world of programming. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, and the more I wanted to apply that learning to create, to build.
As graduation approached, most around me assumed I would follow the conventional path into a legal career.
It’s good money! It’s what everyone talks about!
While I respected the law profession, I knew that my heart was telling me to follow the path that gave me a strong sense of purpose and passion. That was programming.
The Backlash of Taking Risks in Life
I made the somewhat daring decision to step away from the legal industry and plunge into a field that had captivated me – data science. I decided to join a boot camp, a move many viewed as a considerable risk.
What are you doing?! Is this what you plan to do in the future? Why waste what you’ve worked hard for?
Most of my peers at that time were desperately trying to convince me that this uncertain path was a mistake. After all, programming and law have very little in common. Many shared their concern that I had wasted 3 years of education just to start fresh in a field I knew nothing about.
At that moment, I drew inspiration from Jeff Bezos’s regret minimization framework.
When faced with a decision, imagine yourself in the future, looking back. Which choice would you regret less?Jeff Bezos; Founder of Amazon
For me, the answer was clear. I didn’t want to look back and regret not taking this opportunity to act on my convictions.
Learning Everything from Scratch as a Data Engineer
Over the next three years, I delved deep into the world of data engineering in a small startup, soaking up knowledge about cloud computing and distributed computing systems. The experience was invaluable, bolstering my understanding and skills while deepening my appreciation for the critical role data plays in today’s world.
Alongside my 9-to-5 as a Data Engineer, my interest in creating and learning remained as strong as ever. Over those three years, I continued to channel my off-hours into honing my skills in web application development. For me, the thrill of learning was not confined to the workplace.
I was addicted to learning and creating web applications.
Each web app I developed was a self-contained project, a challenge to apply new frameworks, and an opportunity to learn and grow. It was like working on a puzzle, each piece of code bringing me closer to a working, functional, and aesthetically pleasing end result.
The Era of AI is Coming
Around the end of 2022, I found myself increasingly fascinated by the capabilities of OpenAI’s GPT-3 API. This was before the days of mainstream language models, before the birth of ChatGPT. I saw potential in this technology, an opportunity to create something useful.
Going ALL-IN Again
After three fruitful years of building up my knowledge and skill set, I found myself faced with another significant decision. To risk everything again.
The comfort and stability of my role were undeniable, as were the connections I had built. My colleagues and mentors had become an invaluable part of my professional journey, offering support, guidance, and camaraderie. The thought of leaving was daunting.
Yet, there was a persistent thought in the back of my mind, an echoing of Jeff’s regret minimization framework that had guided me in the past. I asked myself – in the years to come, what decision would I regret less?
The answer, as it had been before, was clear. The desire to create something meaningful and make a lasting impact continued to be like an itch under my skin, impossible to resist or ignore.
Learning the Power of AI
When I first embarked on my journey as a Data Engineer in 2018, it was evident that we were on the brink of an AI revolution. Data was already fuelling artificial intelligence systems everywhere, and it was clear that this symbiosis of data and AI would play an integral role in our future.
Businesses were collecting a ton of information and doing research with them. Imagine the potential of what AI could do not just for businesses, but for everything individual.
If you aren’t familiar with how fast AI has evolved, let me catch you up to speed:
- Krishna; CEO of IBM announced that they will pause hiring roughly 7,800 jobs that could be replaced by AI
- AI Bot Will Reportedly Defend a Human in Court
- Jackson Fall starts a business with only $100 by doing what ChatGPT asks him
So it begs the question to all business owners:
How can I integrate some parts of my business into AI?
According to a recent survey by McKinsey, AI is able to improve business efficiency by up to 40% and reduce operational costs by up to 30%. It’s interesting to know many things are happening around AI that normal day-to-day people will not take the time to understand.
Being on the Frontline Helping Businesses
One of the primary reasons I decided to venture into creating a tech startup was to address real-world problems and create tools that could provide tangible solutions.
My Mom, herself an agent, was the one who brought it to my attention – the lack of a fast, reliable source of information for real estate inquiries. She found that getting specific and accurate information about the property market took a disproportionate amount of time and effort – it was far from convenient or efficient.
While ChatGPT was a remarkable breakthrough, it wasn’t equipped to provide answers to specific real estate queries in the Singaporean market since ChatGPT has a knowledge cut-off to 2021 and is not particularly well-versed in all the complexities of the Singapore property market.
About my Business
That’s where the idea of AskPropSG originated – to combine the language understanding capabilities of GPT with an extensive database of real estate information. By infusing GPT with external data, it gained the power to provide specific, reliable answers about real estate in Singapore.
As I continue to develop this company, I become ever more fascinated that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. The developments in AI and LLM (Large language model) technology have laid the groundwork and served as the springboard that allowed me to bring AskPropSG to life.
By leveraging this powerful technology, AskPropSG now serves as a reliable tool for the Singaporean property market, providing fast, comprehensive, and reliable insights to users. It’s a testament to the power of AI, and how we can utilize it to solve real-world problems and make people’s lives easier.
My Lesson to Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs
As I reflect on my journey so far, I feel a bit hesitant to provide any advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. I’m still very much in the trenches myself, navigating the challenging, and often daunting terrain of building a company.
However, I can share a quote that has kept me motivated. Elon Musk once said:
Starting a company is like staring into the abyss and eating glass.
Building a company is indeed an arduous journey, filled with uncertainties and challenges that might feel insurmountable at times.
Leaving your comfort zone, and embarking on this path can indeed be one of the most ill-advised things to do, given the low rates of success. Despite the Cinderella stories you read about in the papers or hear about on TV, the odds of succeeding are stacked against you. This is especially true in a place like Singapore, where forging a stable career path is highly valued.
However, what is life without a mountain to climb?
What is success without the taste of struggle?
The journey of building something meaningful, despite the challenges, can be the most rewarding experience. It’s a path that tests your resilience, creativity, and determination.
If you have a burning desire to create, a persistent itch to make a difference, and the grit to persevere through the challenges, then the entrepreneurial journey could be your mountain. Yes, it’s a steep climb.
Whether the view from the top makes it worthwhile? I’ll let you know when I get there.