In their book “Race Against the Machine” Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee write, “Computer scientist Martin Grötschel analyzed the speed with which a standard optimization problem could be solved by computers over the period 1988-2003. He documented a 43 million-fold improvement, which he broke down into two factors: faster processors and better algorithms embedded in the software. Processor speeds improved by a factor of 1,000, but these gains were dwarfed by the algorithms, which got 43,000 times better over the same period.”
Today Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have advanced and continue to advance at lightning speeds. Consider that computers pattern recognition abilities are already being exploited by the legal industry where, according to one estimate, moving from human to digital labor during the discovery process could let one lawyer do the work of 500. Now that is disruptive!
Now consider the advancements in processing power and better algorithms since Martin Grötschel analyzed the speed with which a standard optimization problem could be solved by computers. The difference in computing power and the depth and quality of algorithms is staggering.
The Influence Of AI
AI is changing the way leaders think about work, their day-to-day operations, and overall business models. For instance, in Deloitte’s most recent State of AI in The Enterprise Report, AI adoption grew globally by five percent from 2017 to 2018, putting the overall adoption rate at around 63 percent. The same report also found that 82 percent of companies with AI programs or products have gained a financial return from their AI investments.
What organizations and individuals can do with AI is at its early stage so the possibilities are truly endless. Some have considered AI as the fourth wave of disruptive technologies McKinsey & Company has published an excellent executive guide to AI here. Additionally, they have provided the transcript of an interview with MIT Professor Andrew McAfee titled “Competing in the AI Economy” and I encourage you to read it here.
AI’s influence is sending a stream of opinions as to its influence on a multitude of issues across global markets. “These technologies will transform the nature of work and the workplace itself,” said James Manyika, chairman, and director of the McKinsey Global Institute and senior partner at McKinsey & Company and Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s global managing partner-elect, in a recent report. “Machines will be able to carry out more of the tasks done by humans, complement the work that humans do, and even perform some tasks that go beyond what humans can do. As a result, some occupations will decline, others will grow, and many more will change.”
The resulting fear drives much of the concern over AI – some justified, some not. “Fears of technology-driven job losses have re-emerged with advances in ‘smart automation,'”explains Richard Berriman, a machine learning specialist and senior consultant in PwC’s Data Analytics practice, and John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, in a report of their own. “The combination of AI, robotics and other digital technologies that are already producing innovations like driverless cars and trucks, intelligent virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana, and Japanese healthcare robots.”
Automation has driven disruption in the workforce since the Luddite movement against mechanized textile mills in the early nineteenth century. While AI is certainly improving and extending the capabilities of such automation, much of the initial focus is on human-driven tasks, rather than roles fulfilled by humans. Thus, it will be a while before we see mass worker displacement because of AI. However, the fear of change and the threat of worker displacement will be fueled by opponents of AI and overhyped media stories so the issues will be front and center while the facts will be overshadowed by the emotions motivated by fear.
The Bottom line
AI and ML are here to not only stay but to thrive as companies, entire markets, and countries begin to learn of the technological capabilities and subsequent benefits. The automation of the collective tasks will create huge returns in productivity. efficiency and economic gains for all participants in the value creation chain.
This will begin a new era of accelerated discoveries, new applications and breakthrough innovations in technologies that are created from the revelations brought about by artificial intelligence. It is clear, AI has arrived, but are companies ready for it?
According to MIT scientist Andrew McAfee, “executives are underestimating the speed, scope, and scale of the disruption it will bring.” .
Because of the exponential growth of emerging technologies integrated and energized by AI, without enterprise strategies and tech support, entities will fail to keep up with the “scale of disruption.” Businesses, organizations, and institutions in every industry will bet their future on the degree to which their AI enterprise strategy serves to improve their knowledge of and benefits from this exponential digital age
Enough said. Get ready!
This article is written by Jay Deragon, Managing Partner of Accelerate InSite.
Mr. Deragon has over 30 years experience in numerous business ventures involving digital technologies. He has built and sold three digital ventures, led a global management consulting practice and served organizations large and small. He is currently a Managing Partner of Accelerate InSite with a focus on AI Strategies.