Writer CEO May Habib on Navigating Hype and Reality in Generative AI

Looking ahead, Habib is optimistic about the future of AI and its potential to transform the way we work. She envisions a future where AI automates mundane tasks and empowers individuals to focus on c...
Writer CEO May Habib on Navigating Hype and Reality in Generative AI
Written by Rich Ord
  • In an illuminating conversation at the Bloomberg Tech Live event, Writer CEO May Habib shared insights into the company’s strategy and vision for the rapidly evolving field of generative AI. Drawing on her personal journey and entrepreneurial spirit, Habib emphasized the potential of AI to revolutionize the future of work while acknowledging the importance of equity and transparency.

    Navigating Hype and Reality in Generative AI

    May Habib acknowledges that generative AI presents a monumental opportunity for businesses but has also become surrounded by considerable hype. “The capabilities of large language models are transformative, but there’s still much work to be done to harness their potential fully,” she stated. “Companies need to separate the signal from the noise and focus on real-world applications that deliver value.”

    Writer’s approach to managing expectations involves providing practical solutions that integrate seamlessly into existing enterprise workflows. “The key is helping companies see past the hype and understand how generative AI can genuinely enhance their operations,” Habib noted. “By building applications that tackle specific business challenges, we enable our customers to achieve measurable gains.”

    The Last Mile Problem: From POCs to Production

    Habib believes that the biggest hurdle for enterprises is moving from proof-of-concept projects to production-scale applications. “Most companies struggle with the last mile of implementation,” she explained. LLMs alone aren’t the solution; you need to incorporate business context, data, and workflows.”

    Writer’s collaborative platform addresses this challenge by providing a comprehensive suite of tools that help enterprises implement AI solutions effectively. By enabling businesses to contextualize models to their specific needs, Writer helps bridge the gap between concept and execution.

    Addressing Hallucinations and Ensuring Compliance

    Another critical aspect of navigating the generative AI landscape is minimizing the risk of hallucinations and ensuring compliance. “AI models are only as good as the data they’re trained on,” Habib emphasized. “Ensuring transparency and traceability in the training data is vital for building trust.”

    Writer’s platform incorporates rigorous quality checks and compliance measures to ensure that generated outputs align with the client’s requirements. “We emphasize transparency around training data and context, so enterprises can have confidence in the models they use,” she added.

    Trust and Shared Responsibility in Generative AI

    Habib points out that the relationship between AI vendors and enterprises must be built on trust and shared responsibility. “Our customers are taking significant risks in adopting generative AI, so it’s our job to guide them through the process.”

    Writer achieves this by fostering open communication, providing clear insights into AI implementation challenges, and ensuring customers can see a clear return on their investment. “Transparency and collaboration are crucial to helping enterprises unlock the full potential of AI while managing the risks,” Habib concluded.

    Building the AI Future Together

    May Habib envisions a collaborative ecosystem where vendors and enterprises work together to responsibly shape AI’s future. “AI has the potential to create unprecedented equity and productivity gains, but it requires a shared vision and commitment.”

    Writer remains committed to driving this vision forward by helping businesses realize the transformative power of AI while navigating the complexities of implementation. “We’re at the forefront of an exciting era in technology, and we’re determined to build a future where AI becomes a force for positive change.”

    Standing Out in a Crowded Market

    Writer stands out by addressing a critical gap in enterprise AI adoption in a rapidly growing AI landscape, where major players and newcomers are vying for dominance. May Habib emphasized that while many companies are focused on building powerful large language models (LLMs), Writer’s differentiation lies in offering a comprehensive platform that caters to enterprises’ specific needs.

    “Our goal is to solve the last mile problem, which is often the most challenging aspect of AI adoption,” Habib explained. “We built Writer to provide enterprises with a platform that integrates seamlessly into their existing workflows, data, and systems, enabling them to unlock the full potential of generative AI.”

    This approach has proven effective, attracting hundreds of enterprise customers, including notable names like Uber and Accenture. Writer helps companies move beyond proof-of-concept stages and scale their AI applications by focusing on customization, contextualization, and workflow integration.

    Palmyra: The Enterprise Solution

    A key component of Writer’s platform is Palmyra, its proprietary large language model, available in 32 languages and capable of beating human benchmarks in quality. “Palmyra is designed to provide enterprises with a multilingual solution that addresses their global communication needs,” Habib said. “It’s not just about having an LLM but ensuring that it’s tailored to the unique requirements of each business.”

    Beyond Palmyra, Writer has also introduced vision capabilities and large reasoning models that can “write software,” allowing enterprises to orchestrate and reinvent their workflows using AI. This innovation is rooted in Habib’s contrarian approach to AI development.

    “While others suggested leveraging existing models, we chose to build our own because that’s what the enterprise needs,” she noted. “It’s not just about being different for the sake of it, but understanding that a contrarian approach often leads to the best solutions.”

    Trusted Partner for the Enterprise

    Writer’s strategy of prioritizing enterprise-specific requirements has set the company apart in a crowded market where AI vendors often struggle to move beyond hype and deliver tangible value. “Our customers need solutions that work seamlessly with their existing systems, and that’s where we come in,” Habib explained.

    By combining sophisticated LLMs with a collaborative interface that integrates data, context, and workflows, Writer ensures that its platform delivers actionable insights and productivity gains. This unique approach has helped the company establish itself as a trusted partner for enterprises looking to harness the transformative power of generative AI.

    “We’re committed to helping companies achieve their vision while bringing ours into the world,” Habib concluded. “There’s so much potential for AI to redefine how we work, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of that transformation.”

    Building Trust Through Shared Risk

    In the dynamic field of generative AI, the relationship between vendors and clients requires a delicate balance of risk-taking and collaboration. May Habib, CEO of Writer, recognizes this intricate dance, noting, “Our customers are taking a big risk in partnering with us because the technology is so exciting and what it enables is so breakthrough.” Trust becomes paramount in this equation, as both parties navigate the challenges and uncertainties accompanying innovative technology adoption.

    A successful vendor-client relationship in generative AI hinges on a shared vision for the future and the ability to embrace risks together. Habib emphasizes that Writer operates in “risk-taking mode,” understanding the significant challenges of implementing cutting-edge AI solutions. She further highlights the importance of transparency, open communication, and aligning goals to build a foundation of trust.

    Transparency and Communication

    Transparency is vital in building this trust, ensuring that clients are fully aware of AI models’ capabilities and limitations. Regular communication allows both parties to stay aligned on project objectives, adjustments, and potential roadblocks. Habib underscores the need for clear expectations, noting, “It’s about keeping our customers in the loop, sharing progress, and being honest about what’s achievable and what needs improvement.”

    Mutual Understanding and Vision

    A shared vision and mutual understanding are crucial to fostering trust. Habib encourages her team to work closely with clients, ensuring that their AI solutions align with the client’s specific goals and workflow needs. This collaborative approach allows Writer to develop tailored models that resonate with each client’s unique challenges. “It’s about understanding their workflows deeply, ensuring that we’re not just delivering technology, but solving real business problems,” she notes.

    Embracing Innovation Together

    The rapidly evolving nature of generative AI means that both vendors and clients must be willing to embrace change and innovation together. Habib acknowledges that this journey requires a level of courage from both parties. “We’ve seen tremendous success because our clients are willing to experiment with us, to take that leap of faith,” she reflects. By fostering a culture of shared innovation and collaboration, vendors like Writer can unlock the transformative potential of AI while ensuring that clients feel supported and understood.

    This approach to building trust through shared risk strengthens the relationship between vendors and clients and paves the way for AI to become a powerful force for positive change. By nurturing collaboration and mutual understanding, the AI community can help businesses harness the full potential of generative AI while minimizing the risks.

    A Vision for the Future: Equity and Contrarianism

    May Habib’s vision for the future of AI is rooted in the principles of equity and contrarian thinking. She believes that AI should be developed to ensure inclusivity and fairness, enabling access to opportunities for all. Reflecting on her upbringing as an immigrant from Lebanon, she is driven to ensure that everyone, regardless of background, has an equal chance to succeed. “The language you were born speaking shouldn’t impact the kind of life you end up leading,” she explains. This realization fueled her passion for natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), leading her to co-found Writer with a mission to break down barriers.

    Championing Equity in AI Development

    Habib envisions a future where AI enhances productivity and serves as a tool to bridge gaps and create a more equitable society. She recognizes AI’s potential to revolutionize work but warns of the risks if development lacks an equity focus. “AI has both the potential and the risk to be ten, maybe a hundred times more equity-creating or equity-exacerbating, depending on how we shape it,” she cautions.

    To address this, Writer’s platform is designed with accessibility and inclusivity in mind, ensuring that AI solutions cater to diverse needs. Habib emphasizes engaging marginalized voices in AI development and creating systems understanding different languages, cultures, and contexts. “We’re committed to building models that reflect the diversity of the real world, allowing everyone to benefit from the power of AI,” she says.

    Contrarian Thinking in Innovation

    Habib’s contrarian approach to innovation has also shaped Writer’s distinctive path in the AI landscape. While others suggested leveraging existing large language models, Writer built its proprietary models and platform. “A lot of what we’ve been doing has felt contrarian. We built our own models even as folks said, ‘Hey, these frontier models are getting more powerful and cheaper; why don’t you just build on them?’ But that has proven to be what the enterprise needs,” she explains.

    This willingness to question conventional wisdom and take calculated risks has allowed Writer to differentiate itself in a crowded market. By building its own models, Writer can offer tailored solutions that align with the specific needs of enterprise clients. Habib believes that embracing contrarian thinking is essential in unlocking new possibilities and driving positive change in the AI industry.

    Shaping the Future of AI

    Looking ahead, Habib is optimistic about the future of AI and its potential to transform the way we work. She envisions a future where AI automates mundane tasks and empowers individuals to focus on creative and meaningful work. “The future is work where you get to do the work you want and let AI do the rest,” she says.

    To achieve this vision, she urges AI leaders to paint a compelling picture of how AI can improve lives and bring people on this transformative journey. “Executives need to articulate a vision for AI that brings people together and helps them see the possibilities,” she notes.

    By championing equity and embracing contrarianism, Habib is shaping a future where AI becomes a powerful force for good, driving innovation while ensuring no one is left behind. Her visionary leadership and commitment to inclusivity offer a roadmap for the AI community to follow as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of this rapidly evolving field.

    AI Seamlessly Integrated Into Our Lives

    May Habib’s journey as the CEO and co-founder of Writer exemplifies AI’s transformative potential when guided by vision and purpose. Her commitment to equity, contrarian thinking, and shared risk offers a unique blueprint for other leaders navigating the complex world of generative AI. She has set Writer apart as a leader in the rapidly evolving field by championing inclusivity and emphasizing the importance of tailored solutions for enterprises.

    As the AI industry continues to grow and mature, Habib’s vision serves as a reminder that technology must be developed with humanity in mind. “We have a responsibility to shape AI in a way that promotes equity and inclusivity,” she asserts. This responsibility is not just about creating powerful tools but ensuring that these tools are accessible to all and that they empower individuals to reach their full potential.

    Furthermore, her approach to building trust through shared risk is an essential lesson for companies seeking to establish meaningful partnerships with their clients. By embracing transparency, open communication, and a willingness to navigate uncertainty, Habib has fostered a collaborative environment where enterprises feel confident in adopting generative AI solutions.

    Looking ahead, Habib envisions a future where AI is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of our daily lives, enhancing productivity while freeing up time for creative and meaningful pursuits. “The future of work is where you get to do what you love and let AI handle the rest,” she emphasizes. This future is not without challenges, but with leaders like Habib at the forefront, it promises to be exciting and inclusive.

    Ultimately, her story is a testament to the power of resilience, risk-taking, and visionary leadership. By challenging the status quo and embracing a contrarian approach, May Habib has positioned Writer as a pioneering force in the AI landscape. As enterprises worldwide continue to explore AI’s transformative potential, Habib’s journey offers valuable insights into how we can shape a future that is not just technologically advanced but equitable and empowering for all.

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