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Thursday, 06 September 2018 22:07

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Pegasystems' Dr Rob Walker talks AI, its growth, modern applications and more

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With almost two thirds of Australian businesses using some form of AI functionality today, how well are we using it, what is its future and what is Pegasystems doing in the AI arena?

AI. It seems like the buzzword of the moment, just as "digital transformation" has been for the last few years, but just as digital transformation, robotic process automation, ERP, CRM, databases, browsers and everything else has been very real indeed, so to is the reality and power of AI in business today.

Sure, we have Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Cortana as examples of intelligent assistant with measures of artificial intelligence to help us as consumers, but for businesses, we're talking about big data, machine learning and more to help feed the AI engine.

As I type this, I realise I didn't discuss the age-old problem of "garbage in, garbage out" when it comes to deep machine learning and AI actions, but we did talk about the transparency of AI and the concept of explainable AI which would help uncover any such data integrity issues if they existed.

I also like to mention on various occasions when talking about advanced tech, that compared with the incredibly advanced nature of tech in the imaginary worlds of science fiction, our own 21st century "advanced technology" is still akin to the black and white era of technology from the 1950s, with human tech still having so very far to go compared with what we can imagine, and that which we haven't even imagined yet.

So, with Pegasystems being a "leader in software for customer engagement and operational excellence", with "adaptive, cloud-architected software" that empowers people to "rapidly deploy and easily change applications to meet strategic business needs", we have a 35-year-old company well positioned to take advantage of and deliver leadership in the business AI space.

Indeed, the company proudly boasts of having "delivered award-winning capabilities in CRM and digital process automation, powered by artificial intelligence and robotic automation, to help the world’s leading brands achieve breakthrough business results".

So, what does Dr. Rob Walker, AI expert and vice-president of decision management and analytics at Pegasystems, have to say about it?

Here's my interview with Dr Walker, after which the article continues, please read on!

I introduced Dr Walker and started by asking how he got into the world of AI and whether he read a lot of robot sci-fi stories growing up like I did. We then discussed his role at Pegasystems.

Then we discussed when Pegasystems started working on AI, and what they called it before it AI, given that computers and the concept of AI has been with us for decades, but has really taken off in the last couple of years.

We also discussed what the latest is with AI at Pegasystems in 2018.

We then looked at how Australian businesses are using AI in 2018, and how we compare with the US, Europe and Asia, as well as what what are all doing right, doing wrong should be we doing better in the AI space.

We spoke about Dr Walker's role in "decision management", and how I heard about the concept of explainable AI when I was at global defence, aerospace, logistics and multinational French company Thales' media day in Paris early this year.

We examined how Pegasystems is ensuring its AI systems can do exactly that, and whether this is something all AI providers are now having to do by necessity so humans can trust its decisions.

I then threw a series of questions at Dr Walker about the future of AI.

I wanted to know where he saw AI evolving over the next decade?

Will Google's Ray Kurzweil give technological birth to his long desired Singularity?

Will AI remove the need for multiple layers management, or even CEOs, AI experts, board members and chairmen?

Will Skynet emerge? Or will humans always remember that sci-fi movies are a warning and that we should always have a kill switch and Asimov's laws of robotics, which were really laws for AI?

I then asked Dr Walker to share the best piece of advice he had ever received to help him get where he is today, and asked him his about his final message to iTWire viewers and readers, to his current and future customers and partners, and to our future AI overlords.

You can see plenty more about Pegasystems at its website here, and also at its YouTube channel, where you can watch a stack of videos from its recent PegaWorld 2018 conference.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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