Artificial intelligence: treasure or threat?

Oct 26, 2017
  • finance
  • people
  • IT
  • artificial intelligence & RPA

From quality control and production process optimization to customer behavior prediction, planning and information management: artificial intelligence (AI) brings value to numerous business domains and processes. The technology is evolving at breakneck speed, but will people — and companies — be able to keep up? Even more, should we embrace AI wholeheartedly, or do we have to remain vigilant?

In the past few years, computing power has not only increased significantly, it has also become more available and affordable. This has made technologies like AI and machine learning (ML) more accessible than ever. As a result, numerous business sectors have started using them to create value, for example through predictive maintenance, quality control and optimization, resource optimization and customer behavior prediction.

The finance, automotive and healthcare sectors were among the first adopters, but we are currently seeing traction in food, chemistry and manufacturing as well. Soon, all sectors and all jobs will be impacted by this evolution.

The limits of AI

AI, however, has its limits. Today, the technology is extremely proficient in recognition (of faces, objects, sounds, and patterns), classification (of quality, customers, etc.), prediction (of demand or churn), and similar functions. What it doesn’t do well, however, is display creativity or empathy, or gain real insights into problems. There are no signs that this will change anytime soon, so the human factor will still have its place.

The real challenge for AI is the quality and availability of data. This data is needed to train and test machine-learned models. Insufficient, irrelevant or inaccurate historical data can lead to project failure.

The future: man vs. machine?

In the near future, AI will make our daily lives and jobs a lot easier. It will help us make decisions faster, more consistently, and with a better understanding of their impacts. Next to that, it will also have a major role to play in tackling the challenges of our time, like energy management, treating diseases and climate change.

In a first phase AI systems will mainly interface and collaborate with humans, interact more fluently with machines, and augment and enhance our capabilities. While our trust grows, AI systems will interact increasingly with ERP systems, machines, etc. Eventually, the human factor will become less and less important.
Since AI can bring us so many insights and significant value, we should embrace this evolution. But, as is the case with all new technologies, there are a number of challenges and threats we should be vigilant about, such as its socio-economic impact and ethical and privacy considerations. From a technical perspective, we need to ensure that we stay in control. We don’t want algorithms to communicate among each other without having some form of control over the outcome.

The bottom line is: don’t be afraid, don’t deny it, and don’t be reluctant. Start thinking about the value AI can bring to your business today. Identify the most important opportunities and stakeholders, and begin by planning your roadmap. Our team of AI experts at delaware is happy to guide you on your way.
Author: Guy Clarysse. You can contact Guyon LinkedIn