Whether it boosts productivity or increases workplace satisfaction, artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly recognized as an essential tool to unlock a competitive advantage in business.
It’s hard to dispute the potential of AI to transform the way we work. This is a technology that Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai stated at Davos was akin to “electricity and fire” in its impact on humanity.
And I agree — AI will be (and is) revolutionary.
However, for AI to achieve a meaningful, positive impact on businesses and the world, we have to understand it and challenge our preconceptions.
What do we mean when we talk about AI? How can large enterprises get started in deploying it? With such new technology, how do you put in place best practices? Similarly, is there any way we can anticipate all the challenges that such a transformative technology might bring?
It will take time to answer each of these questions. Much like the technology itself, the role of AI will keep evolving.
We understand a lot more than we did even 12 months ago. Despite this, AI specialists must start sharing their learnings with the wider industry to challenge preconceptions.
AI’s future depends on it.
A great deal of what we see labeled as AI today is closer to automation. It may be complex, but often what is presented as AI is an algorithm crunching data and spitting out a predetermined response.
A simple litmus test for true AI is whether it’s able to understand or perform in a way that would normally require human intelligence. In short, does it respond similarly to a human brain?
One of the key traits that separates human intelligence from examples of automation is our ability to forget what we know and replace it with more relevant information. Essentially, the human brain learns by forgetting, and it’s incredibly efficient by doing so.
Through a neural network, however, AI can process and learn to strategically forget data it no longer needs — filtering and selecting the right information in real time with minimal computational power.
Mirroring the human brain, this powerful AI is at the root of enabling large-scale enterprises to embrace AI effectively and efficiently.
Deploying Human-Inspired AI In The Workplace
A good example of where human-inspired AI can thrive is in the workplace.
Every organization has more intelligence to access than it realizes. For instance, just 20% of knowledge in the workplace is documented and accessible to teams. This data is written in emails and messages or stored away on a server. The remaining 80% is undocumented knowledge, residing in the minds of the people within the organization.
Across organizations, there are hundreds of thousands of human minds with different expertise, experiences and skills. Unlocking this untapped potential with Al, particularly for larger organizations, can provide a significant competitive edge.
But companies shouldn’t be greedy. Effective AI isn’t about taking random data points from anywhere and everywhere — that’s a common misconception that came about alongside the data gold rush of the 2010s. Just because there is a data source with billions of data points doesn’t mean using it will make your AI better or smarter. In many cases, the opposite is true.
When it comes to deploying AI effectively, we need to take a considered approach.
Trial and error and testing with control groups are the best ways to determine the accuracy of an AI solution. Of course, AI providers should be able to assist organizations with these tests and trials ahead of a full roll-out, ensuring that once the technology is deployed, it will meet the standards expected.
AI Challenges: From Data Accuracy To The ‘Creep Factor’
Part of the immediate appeal of AI is in its ability to reduce the need for admin, but that doesn’t mean it can operate without oversight. It can be very difficult to determine whether an AI has taught itself the right things. Even more difficult is understanding whether it has forgotten the right things.
Another challenge that deploying AI can bring about is a cultural one. While people are open to the potential for AI to transform their work, such as improving their workload and ability to be productive, it doesn’t mean they won’t find it creepy or unsettling if used in the wrong way.
All AI should be applied positively. It should champion people’s skills and knowledge and not be used to penalize underperformance or act as a surveillance tool.
AI should inspire humans, not promote anxiety.
Organizations are waking up to the opportunity that AI offers and acknowledging that it will be a core foundation of the future workplace.
Insight from Gartner, Inc. reinforces this, predicting 70% of organizations will implement AI to assist employee productivity by 2021.
In practice, AI’s potential is even greater. It can be a vehicle to unlock the vast untapped potential of undocumented knowledge — the intellectual brainpower of an organization. With that comes benefits from more efficient onboarding through to improved workplace happiness and faster problem-solving.
It’s an appealing and achievable destination.
To reach it, businesses need to rethink their definition of AI, be diligent in its deployment and be ready to preempt the challenges that arise on the journey.