AI Futures

AI is the real deal

There’s nothing fake about the game-changing impact that artificial intelligence can have on your business processes – but we must consider how humans are affected, too.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay. Many valuable industrial processes are already unthinkable without it. Yet while AI is often perceived as a way of dealing with repeatable, mundane and error-prone tasks, it is now entering domains that we previously believed were exclusive to humans.

This expansion in use cases creates a surge in innovation opportunities, including augmented creativity, self-optimizing systems tending towards fully autonomous products, and ultimately entire enterprise ecosystems that are ‘self-driving’.

Exciting as these opportunities are, there is a need for reason – we must balance the potential power of AI with the human side of intelligence. An ever-increasing reliance on AI demands reliable and assured training data and algorithms. This requirement will ensure that AI does deliver high-quality results, but with an ability to operate within a well-defined ethical construct.

As AI provides a growing set of functions that surpass human capabilities, we encounter a unique challenge when it comes to applying the technology to our current business models. An AI-first mindset will challenge the foundations of doing business as we know it, as long as we eliminate any structural constraints that could limit progress.

To achieve the right balance between the power of AI and the human side of intelligence, there must be a reinvigorated emphasis on both corporate and individual emotional intelligence and ethics. We believe this focus represents the human antidote to the emotionally detached technical foundation of all AI systems.

We’re only human after all

Capgemini Research Institute studies reveal the extent to which AI has already penetrated into business. It is indispensable to sports, retail, customer experience, smart factories, financial services, automotive, and energy & utilities. It might be surprising to some business leaders quite how deeply AI is embedded in daily operations, with many services unable to exist without it.

With growing cognitive capabilities ready for addition to highly automated processes, it is possible to radically extend the reach of AI way beyond the currently accepted norm. There are advanced products and services that embed AI to create almost-psychic experiences, seamlessly anticipating the next actions or content required by users. AI also regularly exhibits creativity, producing press releases, sports coverage, marketing campaigns and even works of art.

Yet massive growth in the use of AI also creates a new set of challenges. Many organizations are not ready for full AI adoption. There is a need for a more complete understanding of its potential, an increase in organizational readiness, and a rapid growth in the specialized skills needed to develop and manage the next generation of AI solutions.

The deep dependency on training data – and the AI algorithms that require this data – has triggered fresh challenges in areas of control, acquisition, management, quality, privacy and ownership. The continued and explosive growth in data means that AI becomes the only viable means of extracting usable insight and deriving viable actions.

Against the context of what seems like the unstoppable rise of AI, ethics must gain greater prominence in framing the purpose that the technology might or might not serve. AI must be transparent, explainable and fair when it comes to thinking about how the technology positively or negatively impacts an enterprise’s operational activities.

Finally, with AI now increasingly intersecting with capabilities deemed uniquely human, we must consider fundamental questions about the future workforce and AI-first organization design.

Playing your cards right

In the longer term, the AI productivity gap will be shortened by high-productivity development tools that make the power of the technology available to more people. Marketplaces that offer ready-to-use AI solutions are already becoming a crucial alternative to building solutions from scratch.

But if we promote data and AI algorithms as a key corporate asset, then we should treat them as such – understanding sources and mastering how our organizations can use them.

Creating a winning hand

The pace of effective AI-based interactions is increasing apidly. AI tools provide ubiquitous and instant support, which often makes it preferable to interact with the technology rather than a human alternative. AI also augments employees with powerful, intelligent capabilities and automation, meaning they can achieve far more.

But AI-based systems lack two basic qualities: empathy and emotional intelligence. There is a need to develop systems with sensitivity to emotion and to create a culture of complementary coexistence, harmonizing the best of AI and human uniqueness.

An effective balancing act between AIs and humans requires a continuous dialog about the ethical dimensions of AI that includes diverse perspectives. We anticipate that this will pave the way to formalize the proper application of AI.

An ethical approach to AI will help organizations forge new directions, win trust and the continued loyalty of customers – it will help your business to fully reap the benefits.

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Lee Beardmore

I have spent over two decades advising clients on best strategies for technology adoption. I am currently leading the push in AI and intelligent automation for Capgemini’s Business Services. I am a computer scientist by education, a technologist at heart, and can offer a wealth of cross-industry experience to my clients.

Ron Tolido

Executive Vice President, Global CTO – Insights & Data. Certified Master Architect. Member of the Group Technology & Innovation Council. Lead author of TechnoVision. Executive lecturer at TIAS Business School.