Artificial Intelligence: An unexpected debate

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A glimpse behind the scenes of an AI product launch

The launch of any new portfolio of services, particularly on the topic of Artificial Intelligence, comes with a lot of deliberation and discussion across the team. And the introduction of our new Perform AI portfolio of services was no different.  One would expect the most passionate discussions to be around topics like the explanation and trustworthiness of deep neural networks or how best to deal with ethical conundrums and biased systems. There might be heated exchanges on the trade-off between historical and synthetic training data or the measures to be taken to bridge the AI productivity and skills gap. But no.

While these are all highly relevant items, the most passionate debates were actually around the visuals to accompany the materials.

Not so strange, if you think about it. Visuals illustrate the way a company approaches AI. And as there are many different approaches imaginable, making the right choice of visuals actually sparks an almost existential dialogue about how to perform with AI.

We found ourselves staying safely away from anything too robotic, too plastic, too automated. With some of our most recent research pointing out that many people clearly prefer AI solutions with an added human touch  while some still fear an impending Terminator Judgment Day (I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle, not exactly that empathetic, intelligent voice assistant chat), these images didn’t seem to resonate well.

A human finger pointing out to a robotic finger – you know, as a compromise – was quickly disposed for the same reasons. And because by now it’s such an unimaginative cliché.

In the end, we felt that the metaphor of twins, augmenting and mirroring each other, would work best. After all, we created Artificial Intelligence as a way to enhance ourselves with automation skills, cognitive capabilities, real-time insights, raw problem-solving power and split-second responses. A portfolio of skills that simply augments us, making us more effective and successful in reaching our goals. But increasingly it will also empower us to achieve objectives that we deemed unthinkable before.

AI, thus is the augmented self, and a way to radically boost corporate IQ.

But AI is also a crystal-clear mirror, in which we see ourselves reflected in great detail and rigor. And if there’s something in that reflection that we don’t like – a bias that never surfaced before, wrong or insufficient data and facts, uninformed decisions, a lack of trust, or even questionable ethical compromises – we’re actually just looking at ourselves: our almost identical, yet very artificial twin. It’s time to act, brother, sister.

A metaphor that neatly does its job. Artificial Intelligence. Real world solutions. In our corporate family, these two are inseparable from now on.

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