Azeem Azhar on startup pivots, fake news and how AI is reshaping societies

With ‘fake news’ of increasing concern – and an issue pushed to prominence during the US presidential election – how can we ensure the accuracy of our information sources? Few are better placed to answer than Azeem Azhar, product entrepreneur, writer and founder of PeerIndex, the social media analytics startup acquired by BrandWatch.

How to find the best and most reliable information is something that Azeem says has driven him throughout his rich and varied career. As well as founding PeerIndex, which processed social data by using machine learning to identify novel, actionable signals, Azeem was involved with startups like EVI (acquired by Amazon), AMI Software (acquired by Bertin) and others. He also worked as a technology correspondent and in management positions for The Guardian, The Economist, BBC and Reuters. Azeem now curates the Exponential View, a weekly newsletter on technology and society.

Speaking with Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Azeem discusses his journey from journalism to technology. He distills the most important lessons learnt during the founding and development of PeerIndex – including successfully pivoting the business twice. Talking about his own experience, he urges entrepreneurs who have sufficient doubts about whether their punches are landing in the market to act quickly.

Azeem also addresses the ways in which advanced technologies like AI are reshaping society, including their costs and associated ethical puzzles, and suggests ways in which we can respond to increased technological efficiencies to avoid a future like that depicted in dystopian blockbuster ‘Elysium’.

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