Artificial intelligence is a term whose literal meaning is essentially distinct from the mythos surrounding it. AI brings to mind Hal, Deckard, Skynet and Ex Machina’s Ava, sentient robots who have human-like cognitive abilities and morality, and whose real world genesis is still futuristic fiction. But Hollywood fabrication aside, AI has been around for decades, and has recently become very much a part of our day-to-day lives, in varying degrees of conspicuousness.
Which begs the question: ‘What is artificial intelligence?’ Computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term in 1956, as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” If this sounds disappointingly reductionist, consider the mind-numbing scope of ‘intelligence’, and the 1.5 billion years it took evolution to move from nuclei-clad cells to fish. Science is trying to pack unseen intellectual advances into a century or so, with massive implications for businesses, and in turn consumers.
Agriculture tends to be the industry trotted out to showcase AI’s growing influence, perhaps because AI-supplemented methods represent such a juxtaposition against our concept of traditional farming. In modern agriculture, chipped feed stores alert farmers of low supplies, crop yield prediction aids pricing forecasts, and machine learning (ML) based systems predict nutrient deficiencies in soil.
But this is far from the only field AI is revolutionising. Ecommerce giants boost sales with AI-selected purchase options based on your browsing and purchasing history. Healthcare uses sophisticated AI alongside doctors to make more accurate diagnoses. Even the stock market, a noisy jumble of data previously considered too volatile for computers to navigate, is seeing green shoots of AI infiltration.
So does all this AI flying about mean we’re already in a revolution, akin to the Industrial or Agricultural Revolutions? Not quite, but we are on the cusp. The sudden proliferation of Big Data has been a real shot in the arm for AI, coupled with the rapid advances in computing speed and power.
What makes the artificial intelligence age a Revolution, as opposed to, say, the invention of computers, is its near-boundless transformational scope. Unlike our minds or human-dependant computers, AI won’t be tethered by the limitations of our own biology. AI can process certain information far faster, without getting tired and needing to take a break. In addition, given AI’s rate of development some commentators expect it to quickly surpass human intelligence, moving from sidekick to partner, assistant to advisor. When this happens, businesses who haven’t adopted AI will fall far behind, as current analytic methods become what will then look hopelessly primitive.
To future proof their enterprise, the challenge for business leaders is to identify the best and best-suited AI for their organisation, and then the right way to implement it to deliver the best outcomes for their business, their people and their customers. The fittest algorithms will rise to the top, like how Google’s backlink-based scoring system outshone the slew of other ’00s search engines. While this may sound like corporations with the deepest coiffers will get the best AI, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Outcomes in AI are very much around what learning takes place, just like with children. The best AI in the world will fail with poor input. Therefore, in the AI race it’s companies with the cleanest data and clearest infrastructures who will win. Multiple data sources, layers of tech legacy, and muddy back-end processes will befuddle AI, giving SMEs a decent chance to supplant larger competitors, who tend to have labyrinthine back-end systems. Using a platform like Intelastel to integrate disparate applications and hold all your data in one place will create a streamlined, coherent system that will allow AI to fully understand your business. Intelastel will also come with AI assistance embedded into its data discovery and application composer processes, to understand your data as it goes in and help you build best fit business applications.
The AI Revolution is set to shake businesses from their very foundations, along with modern life as we know it. No one can totally predict how this will unfold. Therefore, the best thing you as a business leader can do is get your house in good order. Make your business structure organised, with a lean, clean and integrated system, so that you can easily incorporate AI into your business and be confident in its assistance. In doing this, you can embrace the revolution forearmed.
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