AI-powered Businesses will Rule the Future

The evolution of AI, from being a data science experiment to an enterprise scale transformation, travels through the maturity curve of AUTOMATION, AUTONOMOUS and finally ALLIANCE. Classic AI helped businesses with automation and digitization to now being autonomous where it can take limited actions without human interventions. And soon, it will be seen as a “partner” or ally to humans in business, as a full-fledged team member with complete ownership of the business function.

Avrohom Gottheil, the founder of #AskTheCEO Media recaps the fascinating conversation, he had about the evolution of AI and how it will transform businesses in the future, with Gary Bhattacharjee, AI Practice Leader at Infosys in this article.

One of the most used words in today’s vernacular is AI. Artificial intelligence is all around us. From “smart” contact center agents when you call in for tech support, to intelligent lane assist that keeps your car driving steadily in its proper lane. The mass prevalence of AI has quickly brought the technology from its nascent state to where it is today, a foundational cornerstone of every industry.

If you think about it, artificial intelligence has been around for quite a long time, in some form or another. One of the earliest forms of AI was computer programmed chess players. In 1956, MANIAC, developed at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, became the first computer to defeat a human in a chess-like game. Playing with the simplified Los Alamos rules, it defeated a novice in 23 moves (Wikipedia). Computers have gone on from there to beating human chess champions.

Artificial intelligence then evolved to provide more complex applications; for example, something we’re all familiar with, automation and chat bots. There is a term called RPA, which stands for Robotic Process Automation. RPA is a rules-based technology which automates repetitive tasks to perform them more efficiently and is less error-prone then its human counterparts. A good example of RPA is insurance claims processing. Besides being able to do it faster and with fewer errors than human administrators, the artificial intelligence can also identify exceptions that its human counterparts might miss, thereby saving the company lots of money.

We’re all familiar with chat bots. Whether you’re calling in to tech support, or you’re looking to make changes to your cellular phone plan, often you will be greeted by a bot that can understand several common commands. Many contact centers will even give you the option to communicate with the bot via text messaging. Leveraging technology like this enables businesses to provide a better quality of service and at a lower cost to the consumer.

“The first generation of AI was mainly a rules-based driven paradigm that accelerated decisions made by humans through predictive analysis and insights.

The next generation is where we are today. Rather than having artificial intelligence automate pre-determined outcomes, the technology is given the ability to be autonomous. It can think for itself and make its own decisions in real-time based on dynamic outcomes. A perfect example of that is self-driving cars. The vehicle is able to take in thousands of pieces of information simultaneously and react to everyday life situations accordingly.” - Gary Bhattacharjee, AI Practice Leader, Infosys

For example, a deer running across the road, a car up ahead spinning out on a patch of slippery ice, a motorcycle slamming on the brakes, or even a meteor falling out of the sky! Ok, that last bit I made up, but you get the point. For a vehicle to be truly autonomous it needs to be able to react properly to everything that comes across its path.

This autonomous generation of AI will eventually replace key human functions in many businesses across different sectors. I recently saw a video of an autonomous parking garage in China. A person drives up to the garage and pushes a button on a console (he might have been able to just scan a QR code from his phone). He gets out of his car and a small rectangular robot on wheels slides under the car. It then slightly lifts the vehicle by placing protruding arms under the car’s wheels and drives away with the car on top of it, and parks it in an open parking spot. I would love to see it do the same thing on the busy streets of New York!

In this version of AI, although the technology is autonomous and many human-centric business functions will be abrogated to artificial intelligence, the responsibility and liability will remain with humans. If the self-driving car crashes, the liability still belongs to a human. Whether it’s the vehicle’s manufacturer who holds liability or the owner, a human is still liable.

The same principle applies to the autonomous parking garage. If the cute little rectangular robot scratches the paint of a client’s Lamborghini, a human will have to pay for that.

“The third generation of AI is where we are headed. It is a new generation of fully autonomous intelligent devices that not only takes over many key human-centric business functions, but it also works alongside us and conducts business with us in a collaborative environment. For example, in a brokerage firm, it’s quite conceivable that several of the traders will be replaced by robots who will be doing trades together with their human coworkers! Trading involves not just number crunching, but also intuition and most importantly communication and understanding of the market chatter. In the foreseeable future, robo traders could not just mimic, but amplify human traders through communication amongst themselves and taking ownership of trading decisions though explainable AI.” - Gary Bhattacharjee, AI Practice Leader, Infosys

Another form of autonomous AI is Conversational Commerce, which enables a person to, quite literally, talk to their refrigerator! For example, you could ask your refrigerator "Do we have milk?" Using a combination of artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP), your refrigerator would probably respond, "Yes, but at the rate you’re drinking it, it will be gone by this afternoon. Would you like me to place a restocking order with Instacart?"

The Metaverse is going to play a big role in the third generation of AI, as it will be a key venue for communicating and interacting with autonomous AI. As a simple example imagine putting on your VR goggles and entering the Metaverse. You then sit down with a holographic friend and arm wrestle with him via haptic gloves. Everything looks and feels real. This venue will open the doors to exponential possibilities.

As per - Gary Bhattacharjee, AI Practice Leader, Infosys, “To scale AI in a transformative enterprise, there are three THEATERS where the AI of the future would need to expand:

  • Engineering – Scaling Mathematics through constant silicon innovation including but not limited to techniques like Cloud-native designs, hyper connectivity, uber-connectivity, Quantum Technology, and community-based coding (aka Open Source), as the best code comes from collaborative minds in the open-source community and not locked away in corporate silos.
  • Business – Re-imagine business to leverage AI to eliminate human business functions and create disruptive models. There is a term called fractured market, which means that a business can operate in multiple industries. For example, an insurance company might also rent cars, as they are two complementary industries. Just because things have always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean that they always must be that way.
  • Wisdom – AI amplifies what we teach it. We should focus on teaching AI appropriately so we can amplify good learnings. Areas of amplification are in Labeling, Ethics, Linguistics. We should also be responsible and create AI self-governance to prevent it from being used for malicious purposes.”

In conclusion, with AI the possibilities are endless. From self-driving cars that can dodge falling meteorites to self-stocking refrigerators with a cheeky attitude, artificial intelligence will permeate our lives in a transformative way. Businesses are on the cusp of a new industrial revolution, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. With the new technology at their fingertips, they will be able to accelerate their growth while cutting costs and simultaneously increasing the quality of service to their customers. The businesses that are first on the market to leverage this transformative technology will have a major competitive edge in the marketplace.