Netflix’s New Korean Drama Start-Up: Fact or Fiction?


The new hit Korean drama Start-Up on Netflix has been creating a lot of buzz on the internet. I received a lot of messages from friends and relatives about their questions regarding this show, as I was one of the few they knew who worked in the field, and decided to give the show a watch, and while it’s been frustrating at times, it’s been pretty enjoyable so far. It follows the romance of three main characters and their trials in starting up a new company. One thing in particular that caught my eye was its focus on Silicon Valley and start-up culture in America. Among the cast are three men, Nam Do San, Kim Yong San, and Lee Chul San, also known as Samsan Tech who are introduced as a group of skilled software engineers, but inexperienced entrepreneurs with dreams of going to Silicon Valley and working with companies like Amazon and Google.

Credit: chombosan / Alamy Stock Photo

Key Takeaway 1 — Computer Vision and Image Recognition Software (Start Up vs Actual Modern Day Developments)

Samsan Tech is heralded as a group of prodigious engineers, and early in the drama, they win an international competition for artificial intelligence with their image recognition software. Nam Do San describes the work to his parents as the ability for a machine to identify objects by their name and what they are. He later explains to Seo Dal Mi using an analogy where a computer is like Tarzan, having no knowledge of the outside world, trying to please Jane. Through repeated trial and error, Tarzan eventually starts to learn what Jane likes and dislikes, gathering data through his failures and successes. While this was a rudimentary explanation, it is indeed accurate. The artificial intelligence in development today is trained with hundreds of thousands of data points, and through repeated trial and error, it is fine tuned to accomplish what the developers want.

Credit: oxygen/Getty Images

Key Takeaway 2 — How does AI work?

As seen in the show, AI often can work wonders in our life. One of the first things we see in the drama is Yeong Sil, an AI voice assistant that is built to respond to simple voice commands and Nam Do San’s image recognition software correctly identifying faces through a camera. Yeong Sil isn’t too far from Siri, Google Assistant, or, dare I say, Bixby on your smartphones, and the Nam Do San’s software isn’t too far from Snapchat and Instagram’s facial recognition software for filters.

Credit: @minhphamdesign

Key Takeaway 3 — How do people scale it into a business?

You might very well now be trying to launch your own AI startup! While this is obviously harder said than done, there are a few baby steps that you can do to begin starting your own AI project which very well might one day add some tremendous value into society. Below is a brief framework to think about during your need-finding process:

Closing Thoughts

Many of you watching Start-Up are probably super excited about learning more how computer science and AI works. Here at Persolv AI, we strongly believe that AI education should be made accessible to everyone, so none of our bootcamps require previous programming experience. Our core mission is to expand AI literacy, since it isn’t a technology built for just computer scientists to use, but rather a tool for everyone, ranging from artists to businessmen to medical professionals, to harness the power of AI. Persolv AI has a handful of Stanford Lecturers and Teaching Assistants dedicated to teaching you the most applicable fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning through hands-on projects, and to guide you through your own personal project to help you jump-start your foray in the computer science world!

Staff Contributor, Persolv AI

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