- Venture capital fund and business accelerator Motus Ventures will launch a new fund to advance artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and internet of things (IoT) technologies. The Motus Smart World Innovation Fund (SWIF) is projected to have a total fund size of $30 million.
- Motus will partner with the Stanford Disruptive Technology and Digital Cities Program and “several leading global technology companies” on the fund, according to a press release.
- "Motus Ventures believes automation and AI-based technologies will have the most dramatic shaping effect on business and society at large for decades," Motus Ventures managing partner Jim DiSanto said in a statement. "Artificial intelligence and robotics technology will transform consumer and industrial systems and products into self-operating and self-learning machines."
AI is set to reshape the American economy, increasing the automation of jobs across just about every industry, while also accelerating technology like driverless cars. There have been mixed predictions on just how many and what kind of jobs could be lost or changed as AI comes online, but a 2018 National League of Cities (NLC) report said cities need to take “strategic steps” now to prepare their workforce. That includes a focus on education and re-training, to help students and employees get a leg up in crafting AI and robotics instead of being replaced by the technology.
In a race to put the U.S. ahead, President Trump in February signed an executive order to launch the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, prioritizing and providing resources for U.S.-based AI research and development. The order encourages federal agencies to focus on workforce training, on top of technology investments. Still, the order does not contain funding details, and many city and state governments lack the resources and knowledge to fully prepare their workforce and officials for the new economy.
The Motus SWIF seeks to boost startups in industries including transportation, retail management, agriculture, manufacturing and warehouse and logistics, which are all ripe for disruption by AI and robotics. Motus has previously invested in technologies like LiDAR to support autonomous vehicles and a complex neural network accelerator that could improve AI processing. The partnership with Stanford Digital Cities should also expand Motus’ efforts; in a statement, Stanford Digital Cities executive director Michael Steep said the program "aims to fundamentally change the way governments and companies think and operate as the world moves toward truly digitized urban centers."