🤖 Raiso pt. 2

Two halves of the ocean Photo by Michael Olsen on Unsplash

I started RAISO last November because I was concerned with the rapid growth of automation, and the future of business models based on extraction, and making commodities out of human behavior.

I also did it to get some experience as a founder before I left Northwestern. I was in over my head when I founded Lighthouse (something that I'll talk more on later), and knowing that it was flaming out, I wanted a new challenge that could teach me the basics of how to lead a lot of people in a field I am interested in. Also, not having any explicit profit incentive is a small benefit (although I don't think i'll have a career in public interest).

But, like all good organizations, I wanted Raiso to solve problems and be valuable to a specific set of people.

The programs

Since January, Raiso has had three major programs emerge as stable and valuable: Newsletter, Education, and Events & Partnerships.

Newsletter

One of the issues with AI is that it's pretty hard to understand if you're not in CS. There are not a lot of good vehicles to understand how it works and how it could casually affect you. Lots of news organizations that try and do this end up publishing sensationalizes pieces that either talk about you losing your job, or a new piece of AI tech changing everything. It also uses stupid shit like this:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fspecials-images.forbesimg.com%2Fimageserve%2F612919a086fad616bd00f4c6%2FArtificial-intelligence-and-future-concept%2F960x0.jpg%3Ffit%3Dscale This is the first image you see when you search for AI.

Not exactly useful if you're coming from 0.

The newsletter is meant to make you smarter about AI in the easiest way possible. It's written a lot like the morning brew, meaning, it's colloquial, but not dumbed down. So far it's doing relatively well (it has not been marketed well at all, really), and is poised to get started again mid-October.

Education

Education is meant to scratch the synchronous, IRL-discussions itch that some people have and benefit from. Specifically, if the headline for this was Y and X, Y = AI || a related technology and X = something people casually have experience with. For example, Y = recommender systems and X = Tinder. This lets people from both sides of the aisle talk about things.

Events & Partnerships

E&P finally scratches the industry itch - speakers, and professional partnerships for any related events above. If we wanted a researcher from Google to speak, this program reaches out and tries to make it happen. The same for if we wanted someone to sponsor any events we create in the future.

Projects

The other program we are trying to start is projects, where technical students get into groups and work on technical projects in the sphere of AI. We're trying to decide if students are going to pitch their own ideas, or if this is going to be more like kaggle projects. Or, if there is going to be a big fancy showcase in the end. More on this later...

Conclusion

Starting Raiso has been challenging. It's not the same as starting a statup, and in some ways, starting from zero with a student organization is harder than starting from zero with a startup because it's inherently run by volunteers. We don't have social proof, and getting it comes from existing for a long time, due to no real growth incentives. Thus, recruiting, rate-of-stay, and commitment tend to be near the "less than ideal" end of the spectrum.

But, my opinion is that with Raiso, things have been well above average in this department, with great early members and lots of good early feedback. The real challenge for me now is to assure that the organization continues after I leave. To do that, I've needed to learn how to delegate - which is harder than it seems.

In all, the goal is to make an organization that will last, and that people want to take part of. I'm looking forward to sharing more as we grow.