In 2014, a pre-eminent thinker of our time Stephen Hawking proclaimed that the development of full artificial intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race. The debate around the impact of artificial intelligence is in the news everywhere from robots packing orders in warehouses to autonomous self-driving vehicles in Phoenix.
Many of the current leaders contributing to the development of AI have a more positive view of where it can take humanity. Yan Lecun, credited with creating convolutional neural networks, thinks that AI will help to amplify human intelligence, in the same way that machines have been an amplification of physical strength. Demis Hassabis, co-founder of Deepmind thinks that it will be the most beneficial thing to humanity ever and will unlock our potential within the fields of science and medicine.
The undoubted potential of AI has all organizations scrambling to understand how they can harness the power to deliver competitive advantage. Business leaders are acutely aware of the risks posed by failing to act.
The fourth industrial revolution is driven by the explosion of data and the power to process that data. The basis for intelligence is data and each organization has its own datasets and challenges it needs to overcome to drive both business improvements and organizational enhancements. In many cases, machine learning is layered over the top of the data and rules interpreted to process the information to derive outcomes, often processing work that humans would previously do.
The challenge is that there could be a hesitation to work collaboratively with technology that is unknown or that could be perceived as endangering people’s livelihood. A much more successful model is empowering people with technology that makes their jobs better by removing the mundane, thus allowing people to thrive on more complex tasks and use the tools to improve their working lives.
Paul Daugherty has written a book “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the age of AI” where he proposes that the future is a joined one. His view is that as we embrace AI, new jobs will be created from the progress achieved by the elimination of waste.
One of the key challenges companies face is the fight for talent to drive the AI agenda. Fei-Fei Li, former Chief Scientist at Google Cloud believes the gating factor to progress is people, and the democratization of technology to make AI creation more accessible to all. She believes that we need a cambrian type explosion of knowledge to achieve the potential before us.
Andrew Ng, the cofounder of Google Brain has made Coursera training available to anyone in order to grow the workforce and help realize the potential of AI. Stanford University has recently announced a new project DAWN, to deliver a genericized machine learning platform to deliver building blocks of development of artificial intelligence solutions that are made available to everyone.
Organizations are increasingly learning that in order to progress it’s not only necessary to hire talent, but also develop existing staff. In all fields, the traditional working models are changing, and the concerns around job losses are real, but the workforce needs to be able to evolve and embrace the new roles that are being created by the transformation of work driven by AI.
In the end, it’s humans that will ultimately make this work.