The Power of Artificial Intelligence is to Make Better Decisions

01/28/2017 01:52 pm ET

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the new UI, according to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017 report, identifying trends that are essential to business success in today’s digital economy.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming of age, tackling problems both big and small by making interactions simple and smart. AI is about to become a company’s digital spokesperson. AI is becoming the new user interface (UI), underpinning the way we transact and interact with systems. Seventy-nine percent of business leaders agree that AI will revolutionize the way they gain information from and interact with customers. —Accenture Technology Vision 2017

According to Accenture, AI will define future customer experience.

“As AI takes over more of the user experience, it grows beyond just an intelligent interface. With each customer interaction becoming more personalized, powerful, and natural, AI moves into an even more prominent position: your digital spokesperson,” —Accenture Technology Vision 2017

The power of augmented intelligence and AI is mass personalization at scale. With projections of 6 billion smartphone users and over 50 billion connected devices by 2020, the next generation customer experience will be powered by artificial intelligence.

AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035. – Accenture

Accenture advised the C-suite to re-examine how people interact not just with AI, but also with their business. Reason noted is that AI will take a primary role of interacting with both customers and employees. In addition, AI will be a key point of distinction for businesses versus competitors.

AI will be key point of distinction
Accenture
AI will be key point of distinction

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, identified a number of important questions regarding trust and ethics of artificial intelligence.

By 2020, more people will be equipped with mobile phones than have electricity or running water in their homes or villages. Facebook today has a larger population than China or India. And advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are breaking down man-machine barriers and augmenting human potential.
  • Will consumers trust that these new AI and robotic systems to augment human efforts, or will they fear them?
  • Similarly, in this digital age, will citizens trust the institutions and service providers who maintain their data?
  • Will social media be used to enlighten or manipulate us?
We need to bring transparency into how we govern and manage this technology, and develop security models that allows us to have confidence that these systems won't be hacked, run amuck or become tools of oppression by those who control them. – Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce
Increasing automation will put 57% of the jobs in the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at risk, including 47% of U.S. jobs and 77% of the jobs in China. – The World Bank

Research shows that both consumers and business buyers view personalization, immediacy and intelligent engagements as the new currencies in the digital era.

To learn more about AI and its impact on business, Ray Wang and I invited a futurist, award-winning bestselling author, TEDTalks speaker and entrepreneur Byron Reese to share his research and point of view on our weekly show DisrupTV.

Reese is the publisher of Gigaom. Reese is working on his new book titled “The Fourth Age” on artificial intelligence which is set to be published in 2017.

Reese has been building and running Internet and software companies for twenty years. Of the five companies he either started or joined early, two went public, two were sold, and one resulted in a merger.

In addition to serving in a wide range of senior management roles, from CEO to VP of Marketing to Chief Innovation Officer, Reese has produced diverse body of patented work, authored an award-winning book about the future of technology, and keynotes around the world. Bloomberg Businessweek credits Reese with having “quietly pioneered a new breed of Media Company.”

Reese’s TEDTalks on ‘Achieving Greatness is a Choice” is a must watch. The key message is: Greatness is not a destiny granted to a few, but a decision available to anyone. Reese notes that it is the choices that we make that will ultimately shape our future and provide us with the opportunities to achieve greatness.

Reese believes that the acceleration rate of innovation and adoption of technology has made it easier for anyone to achieve greatness. Technology multiplies what we are able to do and people can have a bigger impact and better standard of living. We can be more productive and choose to live life to the fullest.

We asked Reese about the field of AI and its explosive advancements in the past decade in the fields of machine learning, neural networks, natural language processing, smart robots, deep learning and more.

“AI is not hype and today it is a big deal. AI is delivering the goods today, made possible by Moore’s law, better algorithms and techniques. The big difference today is the vast amount of data that we have. AI is only as good as the data that we can feed it, and today we can do so much more,” said Reese.

‘The Fourth Age’ is a new book that Reese will publish this year. Reese notes that not much has changed in the last five thousand years. Reese identifies three major changes in human history, all led by technological advancements:

“Language was the first major change, about one hundred thousand years ago. Language was our signature ability as a species to work together and coordinate our actions. The second change was agriculture ten thousand years ago, which gave us cities and division of labor and first time for wars. The third change was writing, five thousand years ago, allowing our thoughts to live after you and be portable. Writing and the wheel created the nation states.
The fourth change is a big change and it involves outsourcing our brains to computers and our bodies to robots. So what’s left?” — Reese

Reese notes that there is no consistent definition of AI. There is no consistent agreement on the meaning of intelligence. There is also a debate on the word ‘artificial’. That said, the power of AI for augmenting humanity intelligence, improving productivity, and delivering large scale insights is real and in place today.

“The power of AI is the power to make better decisions. It is the ability to analyze data, learn and gain new insights in order to make better decisions,” said Reese.

Robotics and AI ethics is often seen as a reflection of humanity and our values. Where are we in the state of AI ethics?

Reese believes that there are three aspects to AI ethics:

  1. Ethics that we teach the AI. How we program and develop the algorithms to reflect an ethical system.
  1. How do you use it ethically? This one is really interesting. There is a debate about whether AI weapons should make a kill decision. Reese shared a historical example of AI and whether AI should be used to make decision. AI should be used to choose instead of making mechanical decisions.
  1. How do you treat it ethically?

On this spectrum of AI outcomes, where are we today in terms of AI technology and its role in business?

Reese notes that AI in business is really heating up.

“Businesses are series of good decisions, coupled with good execution. If AI has the power to make better decisions, then any business that has to make decisions, will be able to make more informed and fast decisions. One company making slightly better decisions than another company; it compounds. This is the time for companies to fully embrace AI. Why didn’t blockbuster succeed? Why doesn’t Kodak own the digital camera world? There was a huge shift in technology, a profound shift in technology, and these companies did not adopt soon enough.”

The power of AI is all about the data. AI that does something based on your data, which Reese calls transferred learning. More importantly is when AI can help businesses make more informed decisions and actions on data sets that you may not have. Reese believes that AI use in business will be ubiquitous. What parts of the organization can’t benefit from AI? The answer is that every line of business, from HR to sales, services and marketing can use AI to make better decisions, execute faster and bolster competitive advantage.

To learn more about the impact of artificial intelligence in business and more, please watch the video with Byron Reese, Ray Wang and me.

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