Meet Justin, a Singaporean entrepreneur, who believes that there is a lack of high-quality information available for people to make educated decisions. He felt something had to be done, so together with Co-Founder, Jia Huang, started Scry, an AI-driven crowd prediction platform.
I know that’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s take a step back and discuss what this actually means. Scry’s website describes the service as,
Scry helps you sharpen your strategy skills to give you a better idea of what’s coming down the road – in your personal and professional lives, as well as important events in the wider world.
Simply put, Scry is Asia’s first crowdsourced forecasting platform. It has the goal to help businesses make smarter and faster decisions based on real consumer data, as well as help consumers make better predictions about future trends. Using an additional layer of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through machine learning methods, Scry is attempting to further refine and improve our prediction accuracy rates.
Scry’s digital platform uses consumer-generated feedback through targeted questioning (known as question engagement) to create predictions that allow businesses. governments, and institutions to make smart strategic decisions.
One of the main driving forces behind this revolutionary new technology is Justin and Scry is one of the fastest growing prediction platforms in the world.
If you don’t find Justin in his office, he’s likely to be holed up somewhere quiet with his nose in a book.
Find out more about his story below.
Sell us your company/service in 300 words?
Scry is building a two-sided market to predict the future. On one side of the market, we are building on emerging research on cognition and judgment that has uncovered the existence of latently prescient individuals; these individuals were found over a 5-year geopolitical prediction competition, where they consistently beat out the rest – even intelligence experts by a staggering margin of 30%.
We are taking what those researchers have found, to not only to find more of these people across the world but to give others the opportunity to be trained to think like them as well.
On the other side, we are serving a need that our own market surveys have revealed: over 96% of managers and business owners in across the Western hemisphere say that they are experiencing a crisis of confidence when it comes to making strategic decisions for their organisation. They blame their woes on the poor quality of information they have access to – typically, newspapers, renowned experts in the industry, and TV news networks. What Scry is going to serve up is a no-fluff probabilistic estimate of the outcomes of future events; no prevaricating and hedging with “maybes”, “probably-s”, or “likely-s”.
And tying it all together is Machine Learning. We are using it to advance the state of the art; both to identify positive traits that can be passed on through training to our predictor user base, and to boost the accuracy of the predictions served to our subscribers.
Ultimately, we want to build enough supply and demand in this space that a marketplace to connect organisations with competent predictors of the future becomes a viable prospect.
What is stopping you from having the largest company in the world?
Our advertising budget.
On a more serious note, I think that time will be our largest foe. The way I see it, societies around the world are getting increasingly polarized. With deep-learning algorithms from giants such as YouTube, Facebook pushing “suggested” content, tailoring to individuals’ tastes every chance they get, we are setting ourselves up for building immense echo chambers online.
Its’ effects are spilling over into the real world. The amount of vitriol brought to bear in the western hemisphere’s political arenas is nothing short of staggering these days. And if we come to the point where inter-ideological discourse becomes impossible, Scry will fail.
No amount of “baking-in” network effects into our strategy will be able to overturn a zeitgeist where a person is automatically marked as a pariah, based on an online record of fraternising with the “enemy” and being less than absolutely hostile to their opinions.
And without the fertile field of debate where ideas and opinions can amalgamate and dissociate freely, the broader picture of what is going on is lost, together with any ability to make reliable and actionable predictions.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry in Southeast Asia, what would it be?
I guess it goes without saying that governments in Southeast Asia have a very large hand (even in the most laissez-faire of economies) in their respective countries’ industries. And from my perspective, “Big” Tech in Southeast Asia has largely been brought in as a high-level governmental intervention, from overseas. Many of them enticed by a plethora of grants, tax waivers, and/or other forms of incentives.
As these foreign companies take root, they spawn around them a sprawling quasi-cottage industry of vendors, service providers, up and down the supply chain. Good for keeping the populace relatively occupied, quiescent, and on track to advance toward being more prosperous, and white-collar society; to expand the middle-class quality of life to reach further down the socioeconomic strata.
Now, I am not complaining about this approach – I think it is a wonderful strategy to base nationwide policies on; it is the greatest of noble ambitions to improve the standard of living of millions in what used to be one of the poorest regions in the world.
My beef instead, is with this: at least from the perspective of a Singaporean, the same underlying rationale for attracting tech giants – to maximise jobs and socioeconomic advancement – appears to have been applied to government support for nascent tech start-ups, and because of this overriding concern, the limits placed upon the resulting grants, funds, and programmes cause them to operate like (if I may be so harsh) make-work programmes.
So, in terms of what I would change in the Tech industry in Southeast Asia: I would change the underlying policies driving the governments’ posture toward Tech start-ups. They should be reoriented, away from maximising jobs and toward maximising their respective start-up ecosystems’ throughput in testing start-up hypotheses.
Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology?
Adam Lindemann. Adam has been funding and incubating start-ups in East Asia for a couple of decades now, and when I had the opportunity to speak with him at length, I was frankly blown away by the depth of his knowledge and experience.
What would you want people to remember you for, 100 years from now?
Being one of the many links in the chain that pulled humanity into a new era of rationalism, and to popularise the idea that markets should be adapted to maximise the utility of a service/product vertical, not merely currency.
Justin holds a Masters of IT Management from the University of Sydney, where he was recognised multiple times for academic performance, and awarded a merit scholarship. Prior to his postgraduate study, Justin was an information security management consultant, with time on the ground in over two dozen organisations.
In that time, he saw, and left dissatisfied with how most organisations were being run.
Views expressed by the interviewee are not necessarily shared by Tech Collective. Some minimal editing is done for clarity’s sake.
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