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Future AI Technology Neither Panacea Nor Threat

Thursday, February 1, 2018
EAST GREENWICH, RI—Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be an important part of the business world in the future, but is unlikely to be either the panacea or global threat some paint it to be, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC).

What We Call AI Changes Over Time

"The definition of AI evolves as time goes by," according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters. 

"Over the last 30 years, we've heard various predictions of what AI would look like and when we would see it hit the market. The truth is many of the technical innovations that would have been considered disruptive and AI-like in the '80s have been part of our every day world from sometime—from anti-lock braking systems  and backup camera to predictive software algorithms and interactive voice response systems.

"Technology by itself is neither virtuous nor evil. We need to ensure that the next generation of technological advances is used appropriately by businesses and government, and that we apply technology where appropriate to stop bad actors, such as hackers and cybercriminals," she notes.

Treat AI as a Complement, Not Replacement, for the Human Touch

"AI will be a valuable tool for companies that want to empower their customers, simplify the user experience, and make life easier," says Praveen Puri, expert in Strategic Simplicity and president of Puri Consulting LLC. "However, like any tool, AI will have its limitations."

"For complex and stressful situations, clients will still want to talk with humans, who can provide empathy and flexibility," he said.

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work

Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist, executive coach and emotional intelligence/mindful leadership consultant, notes, "Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon take over more and more decision-making tasks from humans. Focus on a growth mindset of AI as a technological tool to support decisions based on big data analytics and cognitive thinking not on science fiction robotic sentience of good vs. evil."

According to Dr. Brusman, "Artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be very powerful and extremely accurate, in some cases far superseding human efforts. However, they cannot replicate human intelligence. We need to recognize the strengths and limits of this different form of intelligence."

Dr. Brusman advises his clients, "In order to build a positive vision of the future, we need to develop an understanding of how AI techniques such as machine learning can solve business problems interacting with emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders."

Evaluate Applications on Business Merits

"Artificial Intelligence is one of those technologies that is in a state of immaturity at the current time, that—like blockchain, the internet of things, and 3D printing—is being hyped out of all proportion," says Patrick Daly, CEO of Alba Consulting, the global supply chain consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland.

"AI has potential in certain applications to enhance human performance or remove human intervention altogether. However, each specific application needs to be evaluated on the merits of whether AI can deliver real business advantages in terms of quality, reliability, safety, productivity, and so on.

"For example, in logistics and transport, AI is finding applications in driverless heavy goods vehicles and in order-picking collaborative robots in distribution centres. It is still early in development. However, in the medium term, these innovations will have a dramatic impact on the number of people required and the types of skills needed in these types of operations. They should be included in strategy formulation in forward-looking businesses," Daly notes.

Predictive Maintenance And Analytics Change The Game

"Artificial intelligence is a game changer in the manufacturing and supply chain world," points out Lisa Anderson, known as The Manufacturing Business TransformerSM and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., Claremont, CA. 

"Although personal interaction will always remain a part of success, leveraging human learning and AI tools can achieve dramatic gains in maximizing uptime, minimizing scrap, and increasing margins with programs such as predictive maintenance.

"Predictive analytics can also go a long way in forecasting demand and enhancing the customer experience.  Thus, AI is well worth taking a second look, "  she notes.

Not An Either-Or Situation

"AI is part of a rheostat, not an 'on/off' switch," said SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD.  "Remember 'paperless offices' and 'checkless society?' Naisbitt was right in Megatrends 30 years ago about 'high tech/high touch.' But I'd amend the axiom today to read: 'Higher tech, higher touch,' " Weiss adds.

About SAC

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) is an international association of consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and have provided evidence of significant consulting results among their clients. For more information, please go to http://www.consultingsociety.com, write to info@summitconsulting.com, or call 401/886-4097.
 
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