Could you describe briefly who you are and where you set yourself in the PropTech Industry?
My typical (unordered) byline is: “Tech founder. Mathematician. AI scientist. Economist. Engineer. Writer. Artist. Musician. Swimmer. Boundlessly curious person.”
However, to elaborate, whether as a researcher at LSE, a strategic advisor to Abbott Laboratories, or the mathematical mind behind a boutique consulting firm, I have made a career of developing novel strategies and building mathematical models, technologies, and algorithms.
Also, I have written on a variety of subjects ranging from mathematics to multilateral refugee and asylum policy.
The goal of my PhD was to revolutionise the field of game theory by inventing a new solution concept for noncooperative games.
My current goal is to revolutionise the world of location and mobility with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
I hold a BA in Economics from Northwestern University, an MA in Philosophy from NYU, and a PhD in Mathematics from LSE.
What led you to found your company?
Quite utterly, I was astonished to discover just how antiquated and inefficient the real-estate industry is. High-quality data are hard to find and access. Commonly used data are stale and biased. High-value nontraditional data remain untapped. Research, modelling, analysis, and mission-critical tasks are inefficient, expensive, nonstandardized, unscientific, and manual. There are no suitable tools to analyse data, identify trends, forecast changes, automate tasks, or develop strategies in real estate investment.
Real estate is twenty years behind finance, which is itself antiquated and inefficient.
My question was: how can we use mathematics, scientific methods, data, and technology to do better?
What was immediately clear to me was that anyone who could catalyse and lead a “quant revolution” (to say nothing of an Artificial Intelligence revolution) would advance the industry—and ultimately come to dominate it and more.
What would be your message to the Real Estate funds and asset managers?
1. Adopt an ‘AI first’ attitude.
That is, think of AI as fundamental and not supplemental. It should drive everything from the investment methodology and capital allocation to operation and management. It should not be merely an ancillary decoration or a perfunctory exercise.
2. Adopt Artificial Intelligence early.
People drastically underestimate the rate of change, and the changes will arrive sooner than people realise. Furthermore, acceleration means that change will come increasingly quickly.
It is crucial to preempt the change. As I have noted elsewhere, accelerating returns will accrue to those who effectively leverage Artificial Intelligence, and conversely, those who fail to take advantage will face an ever-widening gap.
3. Promote Artificial Intelligence and data sharing and actively forge strategic partnerships.
Progress in this space will be defined more by cooperation and collaboration than competition.
Will Data begin to drive decision making in Real Estate?
Yes. Given both the increasing value of data and, more importantly, of data-driven insights and the rising risk of operating without data, nothing could be more definite: one cannot afford not to use data to make decisions.
Before you visit a restaurant or buy a product, you leverage data, such as reviews.
In the same way, if you are making an investment decision, you would, one would hope, want as much information as possible, especially if billions are at risk.
Not to use the best information available would be both imprudent and irresponsible.
What are your views on the future of PropTech?
Artificial Intelligence will follow mobile, social, and cloud computing to become the next framework, and just as cloud computing has changed how we work, much of what we will do will be AI-driven. AI will enhance performance and efficiency and reduce costs by several orders of magnitude.
In particular, Artificial Intelligence in PropTech will enable dynamic operation, intelligent monitoring, management, and optimisation of the built environment; transform transportation, logistics, and retail; enable predictive maintenance; enhance manufacturing yields; optimise and streamline design and construction processes; facilitate risk mitigation; automate facilities management; automate quality testing; improve supply-chain management; and automate support functions.
The built environment will become a dynamic interactive human-centric element that can respond to and influence behaviour and be more sustainable, resilient, and accommodating.
In other words, AI and other technologies will allow us to serve in unprecedented ways the interests and values of people and yield a built environment that is designed to be ‘people first’.