Saturday, 14 July 2018 12:13

AI is back, but your business needs to understand it, new book says

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The second coming of artificial intelligence is upon us. AI was a big thing in the 1990s but theory beat out practice, and there was no long-term value. Today’s tech means AI can change our world - but your business must first learn just what AI is, according to Globant’s new book, Embracing the Power of AI.

Artificial intelligence — or AI — has been in the minds of researchers for decades, impressing the general public with visible demonstrations like 1997’s chess match between IBM’s Big Blue and Garry Kasparov.

Yet, the technology and practicality were not there to deliver long-term value. 1990’s artificial intelligence remained a thing of research and theory.

That situation is no more. Today’s cloud and computing power means AI can now change our world, but your business has to first learn just what AI is and how to use it, say five AI experts from Globant.

Globant describes itself as “a digitally native company leveraging the latest technologies in the digital and cognitive space to help organisations transform in every aspect” and says it combines design and engineering expertise to create holistic solutions, identifying customer pain points from the beginning of a project, and working collaboratively to meet business goals, be they AI or cyber security or user experience design.

Globant began with four friends in Argentina teaming up but now employs more than 6900 people in 12 countries. In July 2014, it became the first technology company in Latin America to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

In Embracing the Power of AI, the authors explore the notion of how the future of AI is not at all a Hollywood presentation like Terminator and Skynet, or even Blade Runner’s dystopian hunting of rogue androids. Instead, AI will be an AI for humans to become smarter and augment our intelligence.

While typically an enterprise, wanting to get on-board with AI, will start with staffing for data science talent, the authors say the biggest AI readiness issue for companies is not data science skill, but culture.

“If a company doesn’t have an ‘agile’ mindset and willingness to experiment, it won’t get far with AI. Organisations need to be as quick and adaptable as the technology they’re implementing. The goal must go beyond the initial adoption of AI and include how to sustain and integrate the technology over time. This means making iterations at every step to ensure the implementation aligns with the company’s goals and end users’ needs. Having employees who are open to experimenting is a great way to make the adoption of AI successful within a company,” says J.J. Lopez Murphy, AI and Big Data Tech director, Globant.

Consequently, the aim of the book is to have organisations feel comfortable with the principles of AI so they see and grab opportunities, and to have an intuitive sense of the technology as it emerges. Ultimately, the authors say, an organisation’s greatest key in embracing AI is not in simply having an army of AI specialists, but in building an AI-capable culture.

Of course, as AI becomes more prevalent, it’s important to be aware of the moral behaviours we engineer into them.

By definition, the authors say, you cannot regulate ethics into AI because AI learns by example. However, as AI adoption grows across more and more markets, those implied decisions will be a key component in what shapes our future.

To guarantee ethical products, data scientists must examine the datasets that the AI is pulling from and ensure the program isn’t learning from unchecked biases and adjust its algorithms accordingly. As more companies develop AI programs, it’s important to routinely check in on how this ethical oversight is working. This can be done by asking the team some questions, and these are detailed in the book.

The authors say AI is here to stay, and the practical applications of the technology can be leveraged with a huge side note – AI can disrupt business in many layers. “We can either grow with it or get displaced from the ecosystem altogether,” they say.

The book is recommended for any company wishing to implement AI and needing a place to start.

“With many misconceptions out there about AI, it’s important for organisations to know what AI is, how to implement it successfully and have a place to look to determine its best applications,” Globant says.

Embracing the Power of AI is available now from Amazon.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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