AI LIVE: Everything you missed from our live event


Megan Wright
01/25/2018

All the headlines from our inaugural virtual event, AI LIVE: The future of enterprise, which featured 17 industry speakers and more than 1600 attendees

AI LIVE hero
Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

What does it mean to be an intelligent enterprise in 2018? Which organizations are leading the way when it comes to improved customer experience through artificial intelligence? And how can you ensure you're asking the right questions before you begin your AI and intelligent automation journey? 

Here are the headlines from our inaugural network event, AI LIVE: The Future of Enterprise, which brought together a stellar cast of speakers to discuss how AI and intelligent automation are shaping the enterprise today...

21:40 GMT: x.ai’s Dennis Mortensen

You’ve probably all had an endless email chain trying to schedule a meeting with someone, said x.ai’s Dennis Mortensen. “It’s a chore. And it’s a chore for where you don’t add much value,” he said.

But artificial intelligence is opening up a future where humans will be free to do the jobs they enjoy most, that add the most value, Mortensen explained.

“Intelligent agents are flipping the model—packaging the request into an objective and giving it to an agent,” he explained. “It’s not your job anymore.”

“It’s important to recognize we are about to walk into this new UI paradigm.”

21:10 GMT: Kallol Dutta and Sudhir Jha

There’s little doubt that intelligent automation is having a huge impact across industries, but until now there have been a relatively limited number of real life case studies.

The tangible impact—and potential—of automation in the telecommunications sector, for instance, is huge, said Telecom New Zealand’s Kallol Dutta.

“Instead of call center agents taking calls, we were able to use automation to solve those problems before they arose,” said Dutta.

In the journey from RPA to more advance analytics, considering call cluster identification and patterns of call was key to gather insights for improved customer experience and operations, Dutta explained.

“It’s about looking at underlying actions in a chain of events, rather than just one.”

Likewise, in the manufacturing sector, automation is saving time and increasing output, said Infosys Nia’s Sudhir Jha.

“For one of our clients, benefits included 50 per cent reduction in product development cycle, improved employee productivity and cost aware product design,” he said.  

20:35 GMT: Aimee van Wynsberghe, Foundation for Responsible Robotics

“If you try too hard to regulate the technology, this often stifles innovation,” said Aimee van Wynsberghe, co-director at the Foundation for Responsible Robotics.

“And if you encourage innovation too quickly, this has the potential to come at the cost of societal values,” she added.

“If we consider responsible robotics to be a different way of moving forward—what would this look like?”

What are the sorts of questions we need to be asking and considering when it comes to, for example, robots that interact with children, van Wynsberghe asked.

Likewise, who is liable when something goes wrong with a self driving car? “And how much responsibility do we want to delegate to a machine?” she asked.

19:15 GMT: Airware’s Yvonne Wassenaar

Artificial intelligence is opening up new opportunities for heavy industries like mining, construction and commercial insurance, said Airware CEO Yvonne Wassenaar.

“We’re using tools like drones, machine learning and AI to measure with greater accuracy than ever before,” Wassenaar said.

“In a space like ours this allows future modelling. So we know what the site looks like today with great accuracy, but now we can see what it looks like into the future.”

“There’s many useful ways we can take and use the base model to simulate, with great accuracy, what might happen,” Wassenaar added. For instance, mapping and sensor technology allows for tsunami modelling with previously unseen accuracy.

Likewise, artificial intelligence technologies like drones are increasing safety, allowing people to work more productively without the risks associated with heavy industries, said Wassenaar.

"Drones are allowing us to digitally create a new normal for how we understand the physical world."

18:00 GMT: Manish Rai, Automation Anywhere

“Imagine a world where no knowledge worker had to look at information just to extract decision-making data. That is, I believe, what will be the reality in five years’ time,” said Automation Anywhere’s Manish Rai.

“The AI skills that have the broadest set of applicability need to be developed first.”

For example, Rai said, machine learning can be applied to many types of business processes, structured, semi-structured and unstructured data. “Computer vision is also broad in terms of its applicability and so can apply in terms of understanding everything from invoices to images, and videos to RPA processes,” he said.

Natural language and voice/speech technologies, although slightly narrower in applicability, are revolutionizing organizational ability to build domain expertise.

A common example, Rai added, is to develop expertise in invoice processing, mortgage claims or order status requests. “These specializations require multiple sets of skills to understand how each of the elements come together.”

17:05 GMT: Zoe Stanley-Lockman

Is it possible to build machines that are free from human biases? This is the question around which Zoe Stanley-Lockman has based much of her research.

“Users can inject bias into algorithms based on their interactions with them,” Stanley-Lockman said.

“Algorithms can also make assumptions about gender, race, sexuality, income level, religion, country of origin and so on because of information given."

Another critical source for identifying bias has been, for example, the Enron email scandal. However, you need to remember that this represents only a small minority of the population.

Likewise, language is another basis for inherent bias, said Stanley-Lockman. “Take words that are specifically gendered, such as job titles like doctor and nurse that are often associated with being male or female fields of work.”

16:35 GMT: Virtual Operations’ Nick Andrews

When it comes to automation, cost is often the focus when it should be benefit, explained Virtual Operations’ executive chairman, Nick Andrews.

“If you’re focussing on cost, you’re looking at the wrong side of the equation,” Andrews said.

“If you focus on the ways to provide transformational benefits, the costs of intelligent automation become trivial.”

When it comes to bridging the gap between visibility & satisfaction over time—referred to as the trough of disillusionment—governance is key, said Andrews. Change management and project management also critical, he explained.

“Clear objectives, a center of excellence (CoE), best practice methodology and a strong business case are among the ways to bridge this gap,” said Andrews.

Read more: Support is the real success factor in automation projects

“It’s about applying automation at the cause—and not just the symptoms,” he said. “Simply decreasing headcount, is not the point.”

16:10 GMT: Aric Dromi, digital philosopher and futurologist 

“We are shifting from organic to inorganic perceptions of reality,” said Aric Dromi, digital philosopher and global futurologist. “Our brain is evolving around digital interactions.” 

“What does it mean to be human in a world where most of our cognitive interactions are defined by algorithms?”

Dromi explained just how entrenched algorithms have become in our lives, refering to what he calls an “internet minute”. For instance, every minute on the internet in 2017, almost seven million Snapchats were viewed—compared to just half a million per minute in 2016. Similarly, Youtube traffic almost doubled in that time, growing from 2.78mn to 4.1mn views per minute. 

“By the end of 2017, Netflix was the largest information streaming service in the world. How many companies are able to achieve this scope of goal in such a short period of time?”

We are obsessed with screens, said Dromi, to the point where we don’t always think about the impact that the screen will have. But people and organizations need to start thinking beyond the technology, he said. 

“AI is not about technology—it’s about trust, morality and ethics” 

14:50 GMT: Siemens’ Tobias S. Unger

At a basic level, automation allows freedom from routine tasks for increased productivity, visibility and safety. Similarly, robotic process automation (RPA) allows for the streamlining of repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

But machine learning we see the next level of innovation coming, said Siemens’ Tobias Unger.

“RPA is capable of replacing the hands but machine learning will be able to take on some of the brainpower.”

“We can inject new technological possibilities here,” Unger said, explaining how innovations like blockchain and machine learning round out the intelligence toolkit.

Unger explained how Siemens Shared Services has harnessed intelligent automation technologies to increase productivity and workforce engagement. “In order to tap the full potential, there’s no better source than our employees themselves providing us feedback on which tasks they want automated and supporting us in building and maintaining the robots,” he said. 

“The RPA robot will always be part of someone’s team—it too needs daily handling and daily care.” 

14:10 GMT: Dr Mazin Gadir, Dubai Health Authority

Total spending on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products and services is set to soar in the coming years, said Dr Mazin Gadir of the Dubai Health Authority.

Recognizing this growth potential, the Dubai Government has launched its Ministry for Artificial Intelligence, said Dr Gadir.

“AR and VR is a pillar, driving many of the government- and state-led initiatives,” he said. “Now we need to increase our uptake of these technologies.”

According to Dr Gadir, AI technologies—like AR and VR—are allowing the Dubai Government to improve adherence and training, create behavioural change, and improve results dramatically.

“Chronic diseases are a big issue in the Middle East, and the management of these diseases is a viable area for AR and VR to help us provide treatments.”

The focus for AI in healthcare is multi-dimensional, Dr Gadir explained. Specifically, virtual and augmented reality could significantly impact the delivery of: visualization, computer assisted surgery, radiotherapy, dentistry, rehabilitation and therapy, telemedicine, phobias, and education and training.

13:35 GMT: Tom Ollerton, We Are Social

Douglas Adams accurately surmised how people respond to innovation, said We Are Social’s innovation director, Tom Ollerton, quoting that:  

“Anything that’s invented after the age of 35 is against the natural order of things.” 

There are so many creative brands in the world today using artificial intelligence to improve customer experience and generate better creative, he said.  

“Creative AI tech is among us. It doesn’t feel like a computer has made it—it feels like a rich, resonant experience.”  

But it’s up to brands to now embrace these new kinds of technology—innovations like G.A.Ns and AI-generated images or content—in order to truly embrace its potential.  

For example, AI image analysis indicates that showing an image of a pizza with vegetables on it results in lower rates of audience engagement, said Ollerton. This is based on Ollerton’s work with global pizza brand Dominoes, whose creative innovations—such as drone delivery and AI-chatbots—continue to make headlines across the world.

“74 per cent of businesses believe AI makes their organization more creative,” he said, quoting results from a 2017 Capgemini survey.

If this is the case, then “why is there a massive gulf between businesses at large using AI and marketers?” he asked.

“AI is the next frontier of advertising.”

12:10 GMT: PwC’s Rob McCargow

“One of the impacts we will see is the requirement for trust, transparency and regulation where AI is concerned,” said PwC’s programme leader for artificial intelligence, Rob McCargow.

“We’ll also see an enormous race globally for AI dominance, and this will play out across the globe,” he added. China and North America will see the biggest AI gains in the years to 2030.

According to PwC research, the impact of AI on the global economy will be as much as $15.7tn in GDP gains. In the UK alone, this equates to 10 per cent GDP growth, McCargow said.

“As AI is starting to augment the workforce, we will see productivity grow—at the same time as hyper-personalizing products for consumers.”

“How are we creating a culture of life-long learning?” he asked. “It’s a huge opportunity—but it’s a huge risk. Governments have started to wake up to this… and it’s important that business leaders start to act now.”

It’s about giving children the adaptability and resistance to grow and change as technology evolves, said McCargow. “At the end of the day, you need to protect people, not jobs.” 

11:40 GMT: Terry Walby, Thoughtonomy

It’s the move from RPA to intelligent automation to cognitive automation that Terry Walby said will shape the workforce of the future.

Walby, who is founder and chief executive of Thoughtonomy, said it’s about realizing where human workforces aren’t productive and using technology to change that. 

“These systems can understand how long things take and how effective they are,” said Walby. 

“The use of technology liberates RPA and the use of cloud enables a digital workforce available globally, 24/7.”

Read more: "Don't perfect your process and then automatie it"

11:05 GMT: Cortex's Jonathan Hobday

"We see a lot of activity going on in digitalizing business—capturing inforamtion and turning it into action," said Cortex's Jonathan Hobday. "And that's fundamental to automation, you can't automate without digitizing."

But this activity is characterized as below the line, according to Hobday. And it's the above the line activity which is most powerful. "Activity like machine intelligence—the intelligence that allows a machine to make decisions," said Hobday. 

"It's the analzying to make a decision, the reasoning to make those decisions and the rationalizing that the decision you took could bring about the right outcome."

"AI needs to scale, and the plaftorm to scale AI is automation," Hobday said, adding that almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of automation projects fail to achieve the outcomes they strive for. 

Read more: Cortex's Jonathan Hobday on why automation fails 

10:35 GMT: Google's Yuval Dvir 

"With AI we’ve learned to differentiate between what humans do best and what machines do best," said Google's Yuval Dvir in the opening keynote presentation. 

It's about being radical and being practical at the same time, he said. In other words, being realistic with execution. 

Dvir explained that, at a base level, he findamentally agrees with Peter Drucker's assertion that a lot of the problems we're dealing with today are very human questions—and not technology questions. "But those two are very much combined," he said. 

“Artificial intelligence and other machines… are loosely following the human brain and neural networks," Dvir said. 

"Eventually a human plus machine—each with their own advantages—will always beat the super machine."

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