The "Practical Futurist" Michael Rogers on Intelligent Automation Myths & the Future of AI

The "Practical Futurist" Michael Rogers on Intelligent Automation Myths & the Future of AI

Ahead of the last year's IA Week, we sat down with keynote speaker Michael Rogers to discuss his take on what companies should be doing now to prepare for the future of artificial intelligence, the importance of addressing AI bias, how IA could impact the future of work and advice for technology leaders struggling to overcome change resistance. Below is an excerpt of our conversation:

What are some of the major, world-changing challenges and opportunities associated with intelligent automation, AI and other cognitive technologies? And, considering many of these innovations are still in their infancy, why do we need to start talking about them now?

I think what's interesting is that AI and automation are already really entrenched in our lives. Whether we're aware of it or not, we use it everyday. Waze, the traffic management app, relies on AI to find the fastest possible route. Another example is mobile banking check deposits. There’s a powerful piece of AI behind that. I received a paper check yesterday that I could barely read. However, using my smartphone, I uploaded it and the app read it perfectly. That really is an amazing example of AI at work. 

AI is also changing credit card fraud detection. False declines used to be a huge, costly problem, but have recently gone way down; again, because of artificial intelligence. 

And then routing--UPS, FedEx. One of the reasons that shipping is still a reasonably priced service, despite the increased operations costs, is the enormous efficiencies AI has introduced into the supply chain. 

So AI is already around us and it's simply going to extend into more and more areas of business. What's unusual about this new technology is that, despite being relatively new, it's already widely available to even smaller businesses because it's cloud-based. The barrier to entry is much lower than it was for sophisticated enterprise technologies in the past. This is why virtually every business has to start thinking about cognitive technology - AI is going to be the next spreadsheet, in a sense. It's going to be that prevalent.

Elon Musk’s opinions on AI (that it poses an existential risk, needs to be regulated, etc.) have generated a significant amount of press lately. Do you agree with him? Why or why not?

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