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Artificial Intelligence: Beyond its Inflection Point By Kalyan Kumar, CTO, HCL Technologies

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As 2017 began, I wade through the waves of thoughts that kept challenging my mind and I can clearly foresee that the upcoming Artificial Intelligence (AI) advances are going to bring magnificent changes. I have been in this business for decades now, and can say that AI is bringing a sea of change. It’s coming faster than you and can imagine. Here’s a look at my perspectives for those who are trying to envision AI beyond its inflection point.

AI & Society

I am not really surprised to see that how AI is ruling all the recent business discussions. The reason for its popularity is the unimaginable impact of machine learning and automation on every aspect of our lives. For example, while it’s enticing to think about self-driving cars, it’s mind boggling to imagine how it may change the society. Think. What will happen to cab drivers? How will the drivers make living? What’ll happen to the car industry? Will those cars eliminate pollution and accidents? While we may not have answers to these questions yet, it’s important to make technological progresses that will impact the lower and the middle class groups. Technological transformations, including faster AI breakthroughs are going to bring a great level of relief to this ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor; AI benefits are going to be visible even to the poorest. Remember how the lower income group is donning smart phones these days!

AI & Enterprises

Disruptions that enterprises face today are more to do with speed to market than to do it automation alone. It’s going to be really challenging for those who want to keep up with the pace of AI improvements to the market as fast as possible. Consequently, the world is becoming anxious about these advances in AI. Similarly, our customers need to be educated in a way that they can participate in the benefits of AI because AI is nothing without confidant customers. Let’s participate in re-orienting our customers, in terms of how they see and perceive AI. It will take us a long way. After all, they are the consumers of what we make, and in turn the trainers of their customers.

AI & Workforce

I keep reiterating myself in forums that in the era of AI, we need to think of the augmentation of workforce rather than the replacement. While most of the mundane tasks are going to go away due to automation, people will spend their time doing creative and meaningful work. AI will encourage people to re-orient their thinking to have more fun with work, and thus do more fun work. As IBM CEO GinniRometty says, jobs of tomorrow will not be white collar or blue collar; rather people will do things faster due to technology and spend their time doing what they really are meant to be doing. One of the key challenges in front of us is to train the workforce for future jobs, which are going to be either in partnership of technologies, or very different from what we think of it. Mark my words; there will be more employment in future!

Yet, the Wait is Long..

Despite the day-to-day developments in technologies, the creation of intelligence that imitates human brains is still far from where we stand today. While it’s just a matter of time, it may not happen very soon. While everything mentioned above seems enticing for us as AI mavens, a lot of it is going to keep us all up—almost all-night-long for months, or maybe years. We did not see the advances in AI coming in such superfast manner. Every improvement in AI is beyond what we expected and will continue to challenge our imagination. We got to pull up our socks, and make it work for a better business world, which is much friendlier to our society!

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