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What's Next in the AI Revolution: A Conversation with IgniteTech and GFI Software CEO Eric Vaughan


Last week, the build-up to our bundle of collocated events (Future of Work Expo, IoT Evolution Expo, Generative AI Expo, MSP Expo, ITEXPO, etc.) came to fruition at the beautiful Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Shortly before the event’s annual IDEA Showcase (which I covered in full; read here), our TMC Group Editorial Director Erik Linask and South Florida Tech Hub CEO Nikki Cabus were in full preparation mode for the showcase’s startup contestants and expert judge panel. So, as the final bells and whistles were being put in place for all that, we in the audience got to absorb a ton of great technology information (particularly regarding generative AI, or GenAI) from another speaker:

Eric Vaughan, CEO of IgniteTech and GFI Software; organizations that were also sponsors of the IDEA Showcase (and Diamond sponsors of Generative AI Expo).

Vaughan’s keynote presentation was titled “AI or Bust: The Non-Negotiable Revolution” and let me say, it lived up to that name. Vaughan kicked it off with a sincere admission: He, like so many of us, has been known to struggle with change. It’s a relatable thing. So when he segued to a bunch of news clips dated around the time when the internet was growing but hadn’t yet become quote-unquote “mainstream,” this idea of wisely approaching change made even more sense. News anchors and even industry experts in the clips shown were mostly guarded when it came to what the internet was (and fears of what it might become).

From there, Vaughan transitioned to more clips; from films, this time. WarGames, 2001: A Space odyssey, a recent trailer from 2023’s The Creator, and even the typical fare from The Terminator series. From each of these, Vaughan highlighted a common denominator:

Namely, “AI revolution anxiety.”

“This was prevalent decades ago, and today it’s all people can talk about,” Vaughan said. “But know this: I’ve seen time and time again how every major societal change brings fear. It always has. But with AI, we’re looking at change on the level of the internet and modern computing, the first smartphone, the whole kit and kaboodle. This will catalyze revolution in the job market; that’s not a figment of some distant future. It’s happening now.”

“So, are we ready?”

Vaughan proceeded with what he deemed “The 5 Tectonic Technology Shifts” that we’ve seen:

  1. Internet before “the Web” (ARPANET in 1969, TCP/IP in 1983, etcetera).

  1. The rise of PCs in late 1970s through 1980s, which “democratized computing with declining costs.”
  1. The Web, which drove Internet adoption on a broad scale; Vaughan made notes about its commercialization in the early 1990s, the popularity of AOL, web browsers, and so on.

  1. “The iPhone: A revolution in your pocket” from 2007, Vaughan said. This revolutionized basically having a computer on you, nearly at all times (and how it became a combo of phone, camera, music player capabilities).

  1. And now, in 2024, we’re at AI → GenAI adoption driven by ChatGPT, specifically (i.e. global accessibility, an interactive interface, unlimited use cases, and a path towards the democratization of AI)

Vaughan then spoke about OpenAI and ChatGPT (given how the latter achieved 5 million users in 5 days, which dwarfed user base growth numbers from the likes of Netflix, Airbnb, and Twitter), and he also covered AI in relation to how his companies now have entire days of the week dedicated specifically to wrangling this level of intelligence and using it to the best of our modern abilities.

“Remember,” Vaughan said in closing, “even as IBM’s IBV has said, ‘AI won’t replace people, but people who use AI will replace people who won’t use it.’ This is a culture shift, everyone. It’s a GenAI revolution. Actively using it as new rapid advancements come our way is how we engage the future. It’s how we invest in AI-first modernization, together.”

Edited by Alex Passett
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