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Mislav Malenica on building robust AI communities

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An experienced AI engineer and entrepreneur, Mislav Malenica is on a mission to create emotionally intelligent AI solutions. With expertise in AI, machine learning, game theory and human behavior modeling, his vision of the future is one where humans and artificial intelligence work together to achieve prosperity.

As president of the Croatian Artificial Intelligence Association (CroAI), Malenica and the CroAI team also aim to bring together leading companies and startups in the field of AI in the country.

In an interview with The Recursive, the Croatian entrepreneur reflects on what it takes to build and cultivate a strong AI community and how to create opportunities for AI professionals and help them bring their ideas to life.

The Recursive: How was CroAI born and what is its history?

Mislav Malenica: The idea was to start as a classic association focused on politics, policy makers, etc. However, a few years later, we have become a movement saying that all this political stuff is important, but for us it may be a waste of time – so let’s focus on building a super strong community who helps his people do crazy things and experiment. and trying to create businesses doing things that have never been done before.

Most countries in the region are currently developing their AI strategies. How to create a responsible AI strategy?

Personally, I think creating an AI strategy is a waste of time: for us, we tried, we participated, we invested time, energy, etc. And I would love to be able to say something like “based on the data, we now have 10 more companies doing AI, we now have better processes, we now have more funding for AI and so on . »

Maybe in 10 years this will create more opportunities for some companies to get more EU funds. But these are not the companies that will change the world. These are not the companies that will be exciting, and so on.

The companies that will change the world and their founders will do so regardless of these AI strategies. This is why I think that for us in Europe, writing an AI strategy 10 years ago made sense, because at the time it was courageous. Right now, you’re doing it because you’re catching up and because someone is asking you to do it, and you feel like you have to do it.

What are the biggest challenges organizations face when developing and using AI products?

The most important is the lack of education. I would say a lot of people now just react to trends and what’s happening at the moment. Two years ago the buzz was around image generation, and people were saying “oh now AI generates images, it’s the end, it’s going to start generating videos, we’re all doomed” And so on.

Today, AI generates texts and people think “AI will generate all the texts in the world, we don’t need humans anymore” and so on. And I think it’s a lack of education, a lack of experience in the field, because AI technology existed decades ago and created value. Today a lot of these things are robots, they just don’t create any value, they just look cool.

Do you see enough collaboration between companies, institutions, state actors, etc.? regarding advances in AI?

I don’t see it – but I think it’s not about companies or institutions, but rather about educating mentalities. If you’re in Silicon Valley, you feel it: everyone is constantly wondering how to stay ahead, how to win, and who or who should I partner with to create something and sell it to the rest of the world? world.

We don’t have that mindset, we have a mindset that says, “If I make this decision, it might be a bad decision, and I’ll be hurt in the process – so I’m not ready to do it.” .

I think if you’re born in this area, you’re not starting from a good position. If you want to innovate and change the world, you have to go against the grain.

You already mentioned the AI ​​law. What do you think of the latest developments in regulatory efforts in the EU and US?

A few years ago, when we started working and participating in the development of the AI ​​law, I thought it could be an inspiring document. And as if my personal goal was to create a document that was inspiring. Instead we got bureaucracy and little understanding of what people actually need here.

It sounds good, it looks good and it has shape. He says he’s trying to protect the citizens – but I just say no, that’s not what’s happening. Because it creates so much uncertainty and anxiety if you’re like a small business or a startup or a student in a garage trying to build something, and you just want to understand what’s going on.

How do you see the current state and trajectory of the market for AI-based products in Croatia and the wider CEE region?

I still think Croatia is the best place to live, the best place where people work, build, etc. But you have to make sales in the United States. Growing from Croatia and exporting organically to Austria, Bosnia, Italy, etc. – this is not how you dominate the world.

So I would say it’s a great place for people to build some of the most exciting technologies in the world. But ultimately, you want to participate in the largest economy in the world that truly embraces innovation in the best way possible.

What factors do you think will have the greatest impact on improving this outlook for the CEE countries?

I would say only hero stories, so we need more hero stories. I usually participate in discussions about the future of education and one of the conclusions is that the world is changing so quickly that no country in the world, no education system and, more generally, no school in the world, nor no teacher can actually stay in office. at the top of what’s happening.

That means you go to school, you learn things that are outdated. And when you finish it, when you graduate or learn skills that maybe stopped being relevant sometimes 10 years ago, sometimes two years ago.

And then we said that’s the power of community, of this movement. Let’s not wait until we die and the next generation takes over – let’s try to do something ourselves.

Would you like to know more about our report on the state of AI in CEE? ++++ Download the full report here

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