The Secret Sauce for AI Unicorns

Prof C Explains
2 min readMar 17, 2021
Just adding an AI to an existing task will not make you an AI Unicorn.

Many new AI applications are formulaic.

Some Everyday Task + AI = AI doing that task being performed as good or better than a human.

Reading medical images, analyzing traffic patterns, or even writing up stories about quarterly earnings reports (Wall street journal uses AI for this). This gives a temporary competitive advantage, but it will not last long.

But the exciting new applications are when AI is combined with other new technologies or bridges between fields.

For example, using blockchain and AI to re-engineer supply chain tracing and payment systems ( Or Use AIs to train neural nets that are then compiled into the firmware of IoT devices ( And even combining AI and 3D printing to make autonomous manufacturing systems and eventually autonomous factories. (

Or consider this: combining autonomous cars (AI) with cryptocurrencies. At that point, as Andreas Antonopoulos has asked, does a car even need an owner? A self-owned car could collect ride-sharing fees from its human occupants in crypto and use that crypto to keep itself updated and maintained.

But if we keep on combining technologies, it gets really interesting.

Using AI-driven analytics about past rides and customers, the car can figure out how to best serve its customers, perhaps increasing the likelihood of receiving tips!

Maybe the car would even decide to create its own loyalty program to keep the best customers coming back to it. In turn, such a car could have a smart contract with construction robots to maintain the roadway infrastructure, ensure a quality experience for riders, and decrease the car’s maintenance costs.

In other words, we can use AI mixed with other technologies to create Autonomous Infrastructure, ensuring that we have an up-to-date means of transport available to use at all times.

The secret sauce of great AI applications (and companies) will be how AI is used as an ingredient in a recipe that mixes in other emerging technologies.

J. Scott Christianson is a technologist and an Associate Teaching Professor of management at the Trulaske College of Business, where his interests are focused on the impact of technology on society. You can connect with him on his website, LinkedIn, Twitter, or by following his newsletter, The Free-Range Technologist.

Prof C Explains

J Scott Christianson: UM Teaching Prof, Technologist & Entrepreneur. Connect with me here: