Samsung: AI will eat software, and we will be ready

Samsung is already investing in AI through its Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center. (Samsung)

Many projections of enormous growth for 5G networks and the IoT include a reminder that some of today's biggest drivers of mobile data traffic are applications that did not exist a decade ago. So the growth of network hardware and end user devices may depend on continued creativity, and companies that anticipate new applications will be best positioned to support them.

As the world's largest smartphone maker and a major supplier of chipsets and radio network equipment, Samsung has a lot of reasons to be ready for what's next. The company has been investing in software startups for years, and now is adding a new vehicle called the Q Fund to focus on artificial intelligence. 

"For the past ten years, we've watched software eat the world. Now, it's AI's turn to eat software," said Vincent Tang, a principal at Samsung NEXT Ventures and an investor in the Samsung Next Q Fund, in a press release. "We're launching Q Fund to support the next generation of AI startups who look to scratch beyond the surface of what we know today."

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The Q Fund website invites startups to submit "esoteric, exotic, and eccentric," ideas for consideration. The team is looking for solutions that have a high Q factor, and defines Q as "the quality of an action in reinforcement learning." The Q Fund will provide early stage financing to startups solving AI problems or using AI to solve computer science problems. 

The Q Fund investors are clearly trying to stay away from expectations about what exactly will come their way, but Samsung did list a few "problems" that it thinks artificial intelligence startups supported by the Q Fund might investigate: learning in simulation, scene understanding, intuitive physics, program learning programs, automl, robot control, human computer interaction and meta learning. 

With offices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Korea, the Q Fund is part of Samsung NEXT. Samsung NEXT is an existing unit that works with software startups.

In addition, Samsung has for several years maintained the Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center, which oversees the Samsung Catalyst Fund. The Catalyst Fund has invested in AI startups Allegro and Almotive.