Artificial Intelligence is no longer a fictional concept, and with every passing day, is becoming part of our day-to-day functioning – be it in the form of virtual personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant or chatbots which we use while shopping online. All the economic value of AI today is created through supervised learning in which some input data (A) is used to quickly generate some simple response (B). For example, targeted online ads are an application where if you input an ad and user information, the output is whether the user will click on the ad or not.
Coursera’s co-founder Andrew Ng gave a talk on September 18 on the topic “Artificial Intelligence is the New Electricity for Business and Society”, an analogy he often draws to describe how Artificial Intelligence can transform various industries just like electricity did 100 years ago. The talk was attended by business and technology leaders in India from industries such as Telecom, Banking and Financial Services, Consumer goods and services, Professional Services and Consultancy firms.
During the talk, Andrew shared his views and answered questions from the audience around:
- What AI can and cannot do
- Business implications of AI in industries such as telecom and financial services
- Building talent for an AI powered society
- How business leaders can embrace the AI revolution
Some insights from the talk:
Maximum opportunity lies at the intersection of AI’s capabilities and what is of value to your organization
Most of the AI capabilities that create value for business such as speech recognition, autonomous cars, loan approval processing systems, chatbots have been developed in the last few years. These capabilities create a massive opportunity for creating lucrative business models but they require a mix of both AI expertise and domain expertise. Only an organisation that has both can extract maximum value from these opportunities.
Business leaders should focus on building centralized AI teams and training employees in AI technologies
Given that there are very few companies who have enough AI talent, a question that often pops up in the minds of business leaders is how can they match “supply and demand” of talent. Executives should focus on two strategies:
- Build a centralized AI team and slowly integrate them into different business units instead of hiring individual resources in every business unit. This will ensure your organization has a mix of AI expertise and domain expertise.
- Build scalable and sustainable workforce development initiatives in order to train a large fraction of your existing workforce in AI technology.
People often talk about the ethical implications of AI and whether machines will replace humans. This fear stems out of not understanding what AI can and cannot do today. The AI revolution is at a stage where if a typical human can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, it can probably be automated now or in the near future. With every new technology, there are ethical implications to consider and automation is bound to affect the labour workforce. But we are still a few thousand years away from artificial general intelligence. Machines cannot do everything humans can.
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