Artificial Intelligence

How prepared are we to accept the advance of artificial intelligence (AI)

Krisztina Begg
October 31, 2017 | 7 min read
Not long ago I had my car stolen from a multi-story car park. I reported the theft to the police who were quite sympathetic. I enquired about the action which would be taken to apprehend the thieves, recognizing that the car park was well-equipped with CCTV cameras.

The police confirmed that they indeed had reviewed the CCTV footage, but alas there was nothing which they could do with the information. Why not, I enquired? Because the use of such CCTV footage “infringes the thieves' human rights”! But what about my human rights?

My next step was to visit the car showroom to arrange for the purchase of a new car. The car salesman was delighted to see me and duly reported that within a few years all cars would probably be sold online. In fact, in Germany many cars are already being sold online. The advent of technology does not finish there, he reported. Of course, there are cars which almost drive themselves and subsequently park themselves. So how is it done? Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Some may consider that the whole concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is just opening up Pandora’s Box. But we cannot all be King Canute; the future of AI and its related innovative research into new technology will transform all our lives in the 21st Century. So how prepared are our businesses to embrace this new technology?

My car salesman tells me that AI is developing at an exponential rate so I thought I might examine this hypothesis more closely. AI is affecting every aspect of industry and technology. However, recent research has discovered significant gaps between companies which have already adopted and understand Artificial Intelligence (AI) and those lagging far behind the curve. Some companies have embraced AI wholeheartedly at an early stage in its development. These companies have invested heavily in analytics expertise ensuring the quality of algorithms and data can scale across their enterprise-wide information and knowledge needs. A recent survey discovered that in the technology, media, and telecommunications industry participants anticipate AI to have a significant impact on their product offerings in the next five years.

Extracting structured information from semi-structured or unstructured data sources (“dark data”) is an important problem. One can take it a step further by attempting to construct an automatic knowledge graph from the same data sources. Knowledge databases are built using (semi-supervised) machine learning, and then subsequently used to power intelligent systems which form the basis of AI applications. More advanced messaging and chatbots rely on these knowledge stores to interact with users.

Companies may be defined as either active or passive when dealing with AI. One of the most differentiating aspects for these companies is understanding the differences and value of investing in high-quality data and advanced AI algorithms. Active companies are significantly more likely to understand the process for training algorithms to comprehend the development costs of AI-based products and services.

Meanwhile, there are those companies that excel with their analytical expertise whilst others have exceptional data governance processes in place, which further accelerates their AI-driven growth.

There are a significant number of organizations that see developing an AI strategy as urgent, but which have not yet taken any action in that direction. Having an AI strategy is not the same as implementing that strategy.

So where does all this leave us? Many in the industry actually look forward to the advent of AI as it will allow the delegation of the more mundane, repetitive aspects of their jobs to AI. Thus, employees will need to change their skill sets to excel at delivering AI-based initiatives and strategies. Taking this approach will optimize career growth potential and the chance to become more marketable for many whose jobs are being increasingly automated. Cautious optimism regarding AI’s effects on employment has dominated the decision-making processes at many organizations with AI high on their agendas. The bottom line is that AI is providing opportunities for career growth which will only accelerate in the future. Those that seize the chance to learn and earn more will end up having AI removing the monotonous and unexciting tasks from their jobs, leaving more time for the most challenging and rewarding work.

I look forward to my next car purchase – but will it be purchased online and will it drive itself out of the showroom?

Krisztina Begg
Senior Consultant

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