You’ve all seen the films and heard the prognostications of people like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. They portray artificial intelligence (AI) as something humans should fear. They argue that this kind of technology is driving us apart, and worse yet, that it will lead to some sort of conflict – even an existential threat to our society.
However, as someone who works with AI every day and who sees how it is helping businesses and consumers across the service sector, I am going to have to disagree with Professor Hawking and Mr. Musk – and here’s why.
Did you know that the airplane flying you home for the holidays uses an AI system that has made commercial aviation safer than ever before?
Not flying home? Driving? Well, you can thank sophisticated robots, trained by expert car builders, for your carefree drive home.
What about those financial earnings reports, sports recaps or stock profiles you peer over every morning? Have you ever wondered how news publications get stories out so quickly? Well, some of those reports you are reading are actually written by robots.
So, AI systems are more intertwined with our everyday life than many may believe. These systems make our travel safer and keep us more informed about the world around us. But how is this technology bringing us closer together?
Far from excluding humans, AI systems augment our reasoning capacities and empower us to make more informed real-time decisions.
With data zooming back and forth from computer to computer at the speed of milliseconds, we could easily be left out. But AI actually loops us back into the conversation by not only explaining what the data means but also what conclusions the computer reached and why. And conversation means dialog. Tools exist that can dialogue, answer questions, assess situations and provide insights.
That’s right, AI can now reason and explain its reasoning process– just like a human being. It can enhance and augment human cognitive ability by applying expert analysis at scale to thousands of data points and explaining, in plain language, what this analysis means and how it’s relevant to the reader.
I know we tend to associate automation with the frustrating automated answering system we reach when we call our bank or credit card company.
But across the finance industry and service sector more generally, companies are investing in a new type of artificial intelligence. Armed with a company’s best practices, these performance-enhancing smart machines act as smart coaches, raising the level of service and expertise across the company.
The result is higher sales revenue and better performance for the company and more importantly, better-served and happier customers — happier because they receive expert attention quickly.
Since the call centre has access to expertise with just one click of a mouse, the calls are quicker which means shorter waiting times. This is how modern technology brings back old-fashioned customer service and attention. In short, AI is actually facilitating more human interaction. So next time you call your bank and receive amazing, personalised attention over the phone, you can thank AI.
Change driven by technologies that answer questions, assess situations and communicate insights is already here, but the question remains: why have we not heard about this kind of technology yet?
To answer this question, we need to understand a little bit about the technology behind these systems. What I am talking about is a system that marries an AI inference engine with a next-generation natural language generation (NLG) engine. The inference engine is able to reason at exceptional speeds and the NLG engine explains the inference engine’s reasoning.
The result is a smart machine that can analyse data, apply reasoning, dialogue and express conclusions in natural language. The number of companies that are producing such a system is minute. So, why haven’t we heard about it? Because it’s not Apple, Microsoft, Google or even IBM that are producing this NLG/AI hybrid. It’s smaller players – companies no one has ever heard of, at least for now.
When professor Hawking paints a dystopian vision of the future, he is dreaming of an AI system with free will and the ability to do exactly what humans do. This kind of system does not and likely never will exist.
Smart machines are not some sort of Sci-Fi vision of the future. These are software systems that are already available today and can be deployed in a business in just a couple months’ time. Far from a dystopian future, these smart machine systems facilitate human and machine collaboration – not competition.
Sourced from Arden Manning, Yseop