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Artificial intelligence: Transforming the workplace and world

Asif Alam  Global Business Director, Technology Practice Group, Thomson Reuters

Asif Alam  Global Business Director, Technology Practice Group, Thomson Reuters

Technology and data management are moving across industry lines. Previously siloed sectors are being connected, creating new opportunities.

When humans develop their own cognitive abilities, it’s called “natural intelligence.” When computers begin to think like humans, it’s “artificial intelligence” (AI).

About a year ago, the New York Times featured a section on The Great A.I. Awakening, showcasing Google’s mission to transform its Translate service with AI.

Between then and now, much has happened in the AI space. In fact, Cisco recently held its Advanced Technology Fair displaying ways AI is impacting everyday work life, from helping to connect users in virtual meetings to acting as an active listening agent that provides additional context regarding topics being discussed.

AI has grown in such prevalence that the first religion of AI, called “Way of the Future,” was recently announced by Anthony Levandowski to establish “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.”

Emerging Tech

A team of AI forward-thinkers recently met at an emerging tech conference in San Francisco’s Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center to focus on the impact of AI to corporate workflows. The panel covered topics such as risk and compliance, operational efficiency and competitive advantage, among others.

Ramon Chen, Chief Product Officer at Reltio; Vikram Madan, Senior Product Manager at Amazon Web Services; Jonathan Weber, Reuters News Tech Editor; and I participated in a discussion on the transformative impact AI and machine learning are having on professional workflows across nearly every industry.

Risk and compliance

AI and machine learning are becoming increasingly important to an organization’s success. As these tools, alongside the awesome power of Big Data, become more commonplace, there’s a need for guidelines (aka regulations) to minimize the risks of the evolving landscape.

For instance, when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect in the European Union in May 2018, Modern Data Management platforms will be critical to expediting the time-to-compliance for many companies. These platforms will consolidate transactional and interaction data collected on EU residents as well as relationships between people, products and places that exist in the data. Like neural networks of human intelligence, connected artificial networks will show relationships that can highlight potential threats masked to the human eye.

Operating efficiency

It’s evident that technology and data management are bleeding across industry lines. Previously siloed sectors are being connected, creating new opportunities.

As Ramon put it, technology is not about software or hardware anymore. Everything is data-centric. And in this data-centric world, AI and deep machine learning are paramount.

In this new world order, AI becomes a conduit to improved efficiency. It augments the power of the employee, making him or her more valuable and elevating their potential insights and contributions. As data becomes more commoditized, AI will  allow companies to find new means of creating operational efficiency and new products for customers.

A good example of this was seen in a lightning pitch made by Armineh Nourbakhsh. Armineh showcased Reuters News Tracer, a breaking news detection and verification tool used by journalists to uncover newsworthy events as they are announced on Twitter. Tracer is the embodiment of AI’s ability to drive operational efficiency.

Competitive edge

Most people are familiar with Amazon’s Alexa and the convenience it offers in checking the time, determining the weather and playing the right genre of music for dinner.

In the professional environment, Polly, Alexa’s cousin, is equally supportive. Polly enables users to convert written text into compelling audio messages for on-the-go listening, selecting the preferred accent and language of choice. What previously would have been time consuming to translate, record, edit and post is now done quickly with the aid of machine learning and AI.

As Vikram put it, companies that embrace AI will see their competitive edge (via productivity) increase exponentially. AI makes life easier, simpler and, yes, faster.

Sage Wohns, CEO at Agolo, presented a new technology for ingesting unstructured documents across a variety of data sources and creating concise summaries and metadata for simpler digestion and utilization. These summaries and metadata provide that extra “edge” for those in the know.

AI: “The great hope”

AI the great hope being held out by many. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban said at a recent Reuters Newsmaker event, “Whoever wins at artificial intelligence owns the world. . . . If we’re going to invest in ‘infrastructure,’ the new infrastructure is robotics and artificial intelligence.”

What the future of AI holds seems limitless. One thing is certain, AI will continue to transform the workplace and world as we know it. From financial to legal and tax, AI is fast becoming the support mechanism and intelligence tool business professionals need to give them that competitive edge at the intersection of risk and compliance.

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