Artificial Intelligence – a disruption desirable or disturbing?

Why has AI caught on like wildfire amongst businesses?

JCR Licklider, considered to be one of the most important figures in computer science and general computing history had, about 60 years ago, said: The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.
The crux of AI’s power in making businesses successful is this: AI obtains value out of existing data which can enhance processes and improve products on a consistent and continuous basis. Let’s look at Coca-Cola, the global giant in non-alcoholic beverages. The company swiftly adopted the new technology to collect, create and collate data which it uses to support product development, avail benefit of AI bots and even experiment on augmented reality in its bottling plants in different regions. AI thus helps provide the much needed competitive edge that defines business success.

So, how does any organization manage innovation on the one hand, which keeps it ahead of the market and on the other, improvise and manage internal processes efficiently?
Business processes are usually transactional or knowledge driven. AI can handle complex activities which can be both transactional and knowledge-based while combining internal assets and capabilities in order to drive overall innovation. By freeing human beings from monotonous tasks, AI helps in elevating human effort to high-value work. A digital workforce, can thus reduce or replace manual effort, enhance the efficiency of systems and in the process help organizations achieve remarkable agility in this perennially changing business environment.

When ERP came into existence, companies across sectors and geographies grabbed the opportunity to automate several of their financial, sales and HR processes. AI combined with ERP learns from the data sources and creates workflows and the time taken to load data is minimal, with of course no likelihood of errors in the inserted data. With AI, organizations can optimize their entire operating framework comprising business processes and structures, software applications, and the overarching technology infrastructure.

Though AI, as mentioned earlier, is taking over jobs and freeing humans from routine limited tasks, it will actually empower humans to perform at a high capacity in handling complex roles which involve creative thinking and decision making skills. And, as is with the advent of any new technology, AI too will require highly skilled professionals to anchor, supervise and impart training of advanced AI systems. So, skilling of employees is the need of the hour if organizations want to avoid redundancy of manpower.

Abraham Lincoln has once said: Man is not the only animal who labors, but he is the only one who improves his workmanship. This improvement, the effects of Discoveries, and Inventions.
In this disruptive age, we move from invention to innovation. Kevin Kelly in his book The Inevitable says: Birds flap their wings to fly, but to make humans fly, we had to invent a different type of flying—one that did not occur in nature. Similarly, through AI, we’re going to invent many new types of thinking that don’t exist biologically and that are not like human thinking. Therefore, this intelligence does not replace human thinking but augments it. In other words, human intelligence will be enhanced to advanced levels of innovation, analysis, and creativity.

However, people and organizations who rise to this disruption will gain and those failing to cope will find AI overwhelming and disturbing.