AI + a16z

Building Production Workflows for AI Applications

Tony Holdstock-Brown, Yoko Li, and Derrick Harris

Posted June 14, 2024

In this episode of the AI + a16z podcast, Inngest cofounder and CEO Tony Holdstock-Brown joins a16z partner Yoko Li to discuss the reality and complexity of running AI agents and other multistep AI workflows in production. Tony also shares why developer tools for generative AI — and their founders — might look very similar to previous generations of these products, and where there are opportunities for optimization.

Here’s a sample of the discussion, where Tony shares some advice for engineers looking to build in AI:

“We almost have two parallel tracks right now as, as engineers. We’ve got the CPU track in which we’re all like, ‘Oh yeah, CPU-bound, big O notation. What are we doing on the application-level side?’ And then we’ve got the GPU side, in which people are doing like crazy things in order to make numbers faster, in order to make differentiation better and smoother, in order to do  gradient descent in a nicer and more powerful way. The two disciplines right now are working together, but are also very, very, very different from an engineering point of view.

“This is one interesting part to think about for new engineers, people that are just thinking about what to do if they want to go into the engineering field overall. Do you want to be on the side using AI, in which you take all of these models, do all of this stuff, build the application-level stuff, and chain things together to build products? Or do you want to be on the math side of things, in which you do really low-level things in order to make compilers work better, so that your AI things can run faster and more efficiently? Both are engineering, just completely different applications of it.”

More About This Podcast

Artificial intelligence is changing everything from art to enterprise IT, and a16z is watching all of it with a close eye. This podcast features discussions with leading AI engineers, founders, and experts, as well as our general partners, about where the technology and industry are heading.

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