Gates to the sea?…do we can build them?
Artificial intelligence: what implications do the great advances that are taking place have for people, companies, the society in general?
We have seen, in recent years, some very significant steps forward in everything that refers to Artificial Intelligence. And it is not my intention to highlight what these advances have been, but rather to invite you to do some reflection:
- On the business world itself, what business models, what opportunities Artificial Intelligence can offer
- On people, what implications it could have
Have you thought about it carefully and comprehensively? How far can my/your company isolate itself from all this evolution?
We cannot put gates to the sea
We can see many articles that announce the great paradigm that is looming over us, such as the appearance of robo-boss, as some call them, the disappearance of many jobs to be replaced by intelligent robots, and the exponential connectivity of all kinds of devices, which will make many systems autonomous, and a long list of what can be done by these devices to “replace” people.
Is it really like this?
If I start thinking from a business point of view, I ask myself the following questions:
- Do I understand what Artificial Intelligence is and its possible use?
- Am I curious about what it means?
- How am I integrating the possibilities offered to me?
- How do new technologies impact on my processes and business model?
- Am I taking into account how my sector, my market context, is integrating them?
- Am I training my employees to understand and integrate these new possibilities in my company, my business?
And from a human point of view, and perhaps with an ethical component:
• How are artificial intelligence algorithms being generated and used in solving specific problems? We cannot lose sight of the fact that artificial intelligence systems learn from the sources of information and the rules that humans provide. These systems will be perfectly capable of applying the ethics that we transmit. And very fast. Faster than the human mind.
- What ethics are we trying to convey?
- What elements of security for people do we incorporate?
I am not trying to give answers, but to share reflections, because I think that the answers have to be found by each one from their sphere.
In this post you will find more links than usual, because I think the subject requires it. There are many institutions and companies that are working on all this. My selection means nothing more than different views and applications of a reality.
A bit of background and examples applied to business models
Artificial Intelligence was born with Alan Turing and with the idea of getting a machine to imitate the responses of a person, the natural language.
Since these beginnings in 1950, things have changed a lot, and we have several examples of their evolution in systems that are becoming more and more common today. Surely you’ve heard of IBM’s WATSON system, and how it was the winner of a US television contest, “Jeopardy!”. What is perhaps not so well known is that this IBM system has made it a “meeting consultant” to facilitate decision making. You can see this in the following article: http://www.centrodeinnovacionbbva.com/noticias/el-superordenador-watson-hace-de-consultor-en-emuniones-de-empresa
Following IBM’s example, they are already announcing Cognitive Business Systems, which enable IBM to “substantially improve operational processes, gain customer loyalty, and improve revenue figures.” Jim Casey, Senior Offering Manager for IBM Smarter Process, invites us to demystify pre-judgments about who can and who does not use these systems. He states that no matter the size of the company, there is not a very high risk of failure in applying these types of solutions, and that robots will not do everything that humans do.
I attach the reference in case you are interested:
(IBM – Cognitive Business – Jim Cassey de IBM)
Applications that are already a reality and that integrate both, what is called, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning we have in Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, Robots, Virtual Personal Assistant, Smart Sensors, Security Algorithms and Smart Operations, etc., etc. Some are more obvious and others less. All with great power! And all with the two sides of the coin, which we will have to accustom ourselves to manage: applied to security it can be a great protector, and at the same time, misused, it can be an “infiltrate”, for example.
So what about ethics and people?
I have been very happy when I have seen that investments are already being made to reflect on and raise ethical and governance aspects of artificial intelligence. In the MIT News (publication dated 10-January-2017), you can see that it has been decided to dedicate resources, through MIT Media Lab, to that. You can see in the following link, what its Director Joi Ito says about it: “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, were born and have been developed since engineering. We should not delay in incorporating the look of other disciplines like Philosophy, the human essence, and analyse with this prism what implications artificial intelligence has”:
Artificial Intelligence: Challenges of Extended Intelligence with Joi Ito
Director, MIT Media Lab
Are we out of work?
No. My point of view is that we are facing a new revolution, and that we have to open our minds to understand all the possibilities we have been able to create as human beings. And without forgetting that we are people, working towards adapting the education of our children, young people and our adults, from the private as well as the public realm, including this in the training of our organizations to understand and ‘digest’ all that this means, communication media, social networks, etc. We are not machines, we are people. We do not have to compete with them but use them to our advantage, in a positive way. Let us not forget our creativity, our thinking and our capacity to feel.
It is not a matter of putting “gates to the sea”, but of understanding how we have to navigate in it. Come and sail!!
The last link in this post is to contribute to having a little fun, and see how a small program applies artificial intelligence techniques, how it “repeats” to find a prototype of a car in 2 dimensions, with the number of wheels you indicate … Faced with a road with a series of difficulties, the system “learns” to evolve into a possible shape for a vehicle. Here are some pictures, and if you want to do it on your own, do not forget to give it time to learn… at least a couple of hours …. Enjoy it!