Content & Marketing Executive at This is Milk
Content & Marketing Executive at This is Milk
Increasingly we are seeing and hearing that digital facilitators do not have the right skills in organisations to do the job both now and in the future.
So in typical This is Milk fashion we did something about it and created the Digital Transformation Programme, shortlisted for a BIMA innovation award 2018.
Content & Marketing Executive at This is Milk
Pick any 10 people and ask them how much they think our lives will change in the next 10 years.
If you do this, you will no doubt hear a tonne of ideas, concepts, visions & evolutions that could radically change how we perceive the world. To see proof of this, you only need to look back at the last ten years and see how radically our day to day world has changed.
Things like AirBNB, Uber, Spotify, Google Chrome, Oculus, Kickstarter, Netflix and Android have become so integral in our day to day lives that it's hard to remember how things operated before. It's a sign of fantastic design and an overwhelming desire for change.
There has never been a period in time, when so much, so quickly has had such an enormous change in human behaviour. So what is next, and if all this change seems too much, what's staying the same?
We've got another great line-up of speakers for our upcoming Milk Bar on May 19th at Grant Thornton, covering 'Disrupting Professional Services - Human vs. Machine'. Here is a quick look at our first speaker Matthew Higgs and some words about his upcoming talk.
Synopsis of Matthew's Talk:
Building on ideas from recent industry reports, I describe a method for identifying opportunities in artificial intelligence verticals. I will explain how services can be positioned according to the complexity of the work involved and the complexity of the data necessary to deliver the service, and I will discuss how the position of a service relates to its potential for disruption by artificial intelligence. I critique the method, discuss applications to healthcare and banking, and expand on the societal implications.
In the fourth of our 'On the Horizon' articles - a series of posts exploring future business and society trends - we investigate Artificial Intelligence and the possible implications for business and people
Author: Denis Yordanov
Horizon Watcher, This is Milk
One of the most sophisticated structures that humanity has at its disposal - if not THE most sophisticated one - is the human brain. The computational power and decision-making capabilities of the human brain haven't been matched by neither other life forms nor by machines. So far. Recent technological advances should make us wonder if this will be the case for much longer. One of those advances that really stands out and is becoming ever more popular is Artificial Intelligence (AI). And for good reason. AI has the potential to be the apex technology of our age. The future opportunities it can bring to business and society to significantly disrupt the status quo and change our lives are exciting and perhaps a bit scary.
The term 'Artificial Intelligence' has become quite mainstream in the last few years but the concept of AI is older and goes back a few decades. At its core, Artificial Intelligence can be described as the ability of machines to exhibit intelligence and to undertake cognitive tasks usually associated with the human brain, such as learning, problem-solving and decision-making. Even though Artificial Intelligence has been around for a while, we have begun to tap into the power of AI only recently. Better algorithms that allow computers to learn from available data without being explicitly programmed to do so (Machine Learning), Big Data, and increased computational power are just some of the recent technological advances that have facilitated the rapid spread of AI.
According to Accenture's research 85% of the executives that responded have plans to invest heavily into Artificial Intelligence and AI-related technologies over the next three years, with 79% believing that AI can help with organisational adoption of technology. Undoubtedly, Artificial Intelligence is an interesting and complex topic and clearly business and technological leaders consider it as an important future factor.
How might Artificial Intelligence impact business and society?
In the short term
Artificial Intelligence is not a thing of the future, it's here now. The AI that we interact with today is known as 'weak' AI and usually has a narrow task. For example, Facebook's face and image recognition and Spotify's discovery playlists are cases of AI that are already being used successfully by organisations to improve their services. In the short term we can expect to see further spread of AI in other organisations.
In the near future, AI might play an even more important role in marketing and user experience. As AI improves, human interactions with AI will become more natural and common. Artificial Intelligence will be able to produce and personalise content for customers by using analytics and machine learning to predict what type of content gains the best traction with consumers. Furthermore, in the future, it might be the case that customers will predominantly interact with AI rather than with people from the organisation. This presents the benefits of standardisation of interactions, and due to AI's learning and decision-making abilities, also the benefits of tailoring interactions to different customers. Think how consistent the customer experience in most cases would be if it was not dependent on whether the employee was having a good or a bad day. Artificial Intelligence can deliver 100% consistent brand experience and can do so with multiple customers at the same time, ultimately improving the customer experience for consumers and driving costs down for businesses. We are seeing the first steps towards this in the likes of Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa but the end goal reaches much further than that.
Artificial Intelligence might also become a central asset in several huge industries. One of the most obvious being self-driving cars, which we explored in ourfirst 'On the Horizon' blog post. Another one is healthcare. For example, IBM Watson has been involved in cancer research and treatments.
Watson was able to read 25 million medical papers in one week and provide the doctors with a complete list of everything they needed to know.
Traditionally, in order to be on top of up-to-date treatments and results, doctors have to read and analyse hundreds of scientific papers. Given that each day, roughly 8,000 medical journals are published, the task of reading them all becomes impossible for any doctor. But not for AI. Watson was able to read 25 million medical papers in one week and provide the doctors with a complete list of everything they needed to know. As AI develops, the same methodology can be applied to other medical fields, providing doctors with latest information and enabling them to make better decisions.
Something similar is happening in the financial industry as well. For example, financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co introduced its COIN software, short for Contract Intelligence, that reads and interprets commercial-loan contracts. The result? In a year, the company saved 360,00 work hours by lawyers. Jobs that involve lots of routine tasks reading and analysing information are under direct threat of being made obsolete by Artificial Intelligence.
In the long term
In the long term no industry is safe. The strive for 'strong' Artificial Intelligence will mean that AI will be able to outperform humans in nearly all cognitive tasks. 'Thinking' and 'creative' jobs will be affected as well. Gathering and analysing data, as well as recommending and making decisions based on the results, will probably become AI territory.
Some disruptive results might be the pressing need for extensive job redesigns and putting plans in place to retrain the redundant workforce into new roles and reduce unemployment. Another implication for society might be the need to re-evaluate current understanding of jobs and work, as well as the place of humans in production and consumption. So what's left for people? Emotional Intelligence seems to be a popular answer since humans are able to understand, persuade, and empathise with other humans.
One thing is clear. Technological progress has and will continue to improve our lives in various ways, so fighting against is not only counterproductive but also pointless. Instead, we might be better off trying to understand and embrace it, and ensure that technology is for the people, rather than in spite of them. I'll leave you with a song in the style of the Beatles, the melody for which was composed by Sony's AI.
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In the third 'On the Horizon' blog post, a series of posts exploring future business and society trends, we explore the concept of Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and what lies beyond
The great thing about history is that we can trace the development of the world as we know it, and in particular business and manufacturing, to several important periods of technological and social transition - the industrial revolutions. There is an argument to be made that so far there have been three major industrial revolutions, the impact of which can be clearly identified, not only in the West, but globally. The First Industrial Revolution involved the use of steam power to mechanise much of the manual production at the time. The Second Industrial Revolution was powered by electricity and through division of labour created mass production (think Henry Ford). The Third, and most recent one, Industrial Revolution started in the 1960s with electronics, information technologies, computers and the internet. Its outcomes have become an integral and irreplaceable part of our lives. However, we might be on the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, an Industry 4.0, which is based on the Third but has the potential to reshape our reality even more drastically.
So what is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? The term is so wide-spanning that there is no simple answer to that. It all started with Germany and a high-tech strategy document released by the German government in 2013 which mentioned 'Industrie 4.0' for the first time. The report outlined a plan to computerise and automate almost the entirety of German manufacturing and significantly reduce human involvement in the process. Not surprising, given that Germany is a powerhouse when it comes to innovation and manufacturing. Industry 4.0 is based on three key technologies and strategies: First is the mass scale adoption of the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems. Second, Big Data and powerful analytics that feed actionable data and important insights into the systems. Third, the communication infrastructure has to be secure enough to safely handle business-critical information. All three aspects come together to create the smart factory, which will be at the core of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
For a factory or system to be considered 'smart' it has to meet several requirements:
Industry 4.0 is not a technology or business methodology. It is a new approach to understanding and achieving results that was not possible up until now due to the emergence of new technology. It is focused on automating and computerasing manufacturing entirely, but at the same time spreading the effect beyond manufacturing and into our day-to-day lives in a way that reduces the need for human involvement in production dramatically. It also creates amazing opportunities for cross-country and cross-industry collaboration.
How might Industry 4.0 impact business and society?
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, is heavily involved in the ways in which the Fourth Industrial Revolution can impact our lives. He had this to say in his book 'The Fourth Industrial Revolution': "The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril." For this reason as technology develops further and disrupts existing economic and social models it is important to be people-focused and people-driven. What might the changes be?
Starting with the most obvious one - manufacturing. It is clear that 'those manufacturing jobs' might not be coming back to the manufacturing industry because they will no longer exist in the future. 'Lights-out' manufacturing has been in the works for quite some time and it appears that Industry 4.0 might be the tipping point. Extensive automation and adoption of the Internet of Things most likely will mean exponential increase in productivity, cost-reduction, and customisation for employers. Furthermore, it might also mean that there will be increased unemployment from low-skilled jobs and urgent need for re-training, education, and social safety nets for displaced workers. As automation and robotisation spills over from manufacturing some middle-class jobs could become under threat as well. A 2013 Oxford study puts the percentage of US jobs under threat of automation in the next 20 years at 47%.
In Industry 4.0 supply chains' operations might become disrupted, mainly due to 3D Printing and sensors. For example, in the future, if it is possible for a company to effortlessly send the blueprints for a product digitally over the internet and have the product 3D printed at the local office, or even by the customer, how might supply chain and logistics companies respond to this disruption? Following that line of thought, healthcare and medicine could also be impacted through 3D printing of organs, and the deep implementation of digital technologies and AI in medicine.
The disruptive effects of digital technologies and robotisation at the micro-level are expected to be wide-encompassing. However, just like with the previous three Industrial Revolutions the macro-level changes are just as, if not more, important. As mentioned previously, many of the current economic and social models might come under pressure to be either rethinked or abandoned altogether. For example, in a future post-scarcity society the current short-term profit-driven growth at the expense of long-term growth and development strategy most likely will not be acceptable or appropriate. Furthermore, the current concept and importance of work for the sake of survival might have to be reexamined if goods are produced in abundance and without human labour due to automation.
Governments will be key players and will have to quickly adapt to the changes and take actions to negate the negative effects. For example, it is quite likely that, if left without control or direction, the Fourth Industrial Revolution might further exacerbate wealth inequality and social division between tech-savvy individuals and organisations who understand and control those technologies and those less knowledgeable who would be the passive users left behind. Government actions would be integral to facilitate wealth distribution, provide social safety nets, and ease potential social tensions.
Like the ones before it, this revolution also presents the opportunities for increase in income levels and quality of life improvements for people around the globe. It is important to remember that the outcomes are within our control as long as we are able to work together across country borders, industries, and disciplines.
"Every revolution seems impossible at the beginning, and after it happens, it seems inevitable." - Bill Ayers
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