What do you think about, when you hear someone mention artificial intelligence (AI)? That it has nothing to do with you and the way you live your life? That it’s only relevant to a small number of researchers developing advanced robots? Or, that it might affect your life in 50 years’ time and that’s far enough away to not think about now?
Incorrect! Artificial intelligence can be found in many areas of professional lifeand plays a role in the majority of industries – already!It’s a misconception to think that artificial intelligence only refers to robots that lend a helping hand around the house.
In fact, AI exists in software that we already use or soon will. Far more than the science-fiction of robots, it concerns the evaluation of huge amounts of data and the automation of irritating, time-consuming work tasks that most of us would be happy to give up.
What do you do at work?
What does your typical working day look like? If you work in project management, you no doubt plan and then work through your current projects. This will be the same whether you work in an agency, as a freelancer or within the department of a huge company. Of course, in between periods of work, you’ll maybe have a coffee, check your smartphone and get some lunch.
You co-ordinate with colleagues, maybe before working at a time and place of your choosing, while continuously recording working hours. At the end of the day, you need an overview of how successfully you and your projects have performed. At the very least, you’ll need to know the amount of progress made – deadlines are called deadlines for a reason, after all. And somewhere within your own company, or the company you work for, special offers are developed and invoices written. Hopefully, the bill that follows will cover the costs of your project – if not, you or your company will struggle.
The reality: Business processes need data and administration
All these things that take place every day within a project-based business rely on data – aside from coffee and lunch. And this data requires management. For example, take the bill at the end of a project. How can you make sure that costs are covered and that your company generates profit? These things can only happen if projects are planned realistically. According to data, such as work-time calculations, project success or failure is decided.
Administrative processes required for project planning and data evaluation are expensive.
The problem? Administrative processes required for project planning and data evaluation are expensive. Furthermore, they’re rarely factored into a company’s added value. And this is where artificial intelligence comes into play! Smart software can carry out processes without the need for added value by using data-based automation. How this works in practice and what it means for your everyday working life, we will explain. But first, we should clarify what exactly is meant by ‘artificial intelligence’because, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s not about robots from science-fiction…
Side note: Artificial intelligence – What is it?
There are so many myths surrounding the concept of AI that hardly anyone knows what it actually means. To make matters worse, the term is used in a variety of contexts: some associate it with handy personal companions like the cute robot Pepper; others think instead of self-driving cars or business software that already shows signs of intelligence. In fact – and this is the most important point – everything depends on how the term is interpreted.
In this article, we use the term AI to describe a system that is able to ‘learn’ from the ways people work and behave. This type of software can independently provide context-specific support or recommend solutions to very specific application problems. It ‘thinks along the way’ and brings intelligence to everyday business processes. In fact, this describes data-based automation, rather than AI in its original sense.
Can machines also think independently?
If intelligence refers to the ability to independently and creatively think and solve problems, like humans, then intelligence is not (yet) a part of modern, smart software, and is unlikely to be for another few decades.
During a conversation with artificialwork, AI expert Oliver Kramer, from the University of Oldenburg, explains that a clear and workable definition of AI must differentiate between levels of development. In terms of industry, AI is being used most successfully in supervised learning: around 90 per cent of all AI enterprises currently making money are found in this area.
“When you have a problem in computer science, as a programmer, you break it down into smaller sub-problems to solve. AI can learn from examples and then come up with new solutions.” – Oliver Kramer on the topic of AI
Oliver Kramer explains that, through a machine’s capacity for supervised learning, examples emerge in the form of dataand, from these examples, the machine learns how to construct a solution. Generalisation and interpolation are also possible, leading to practical solutions to new tasks. He further points out that, for a machine to think independently and reach its own solutions to problems, it can first of all only consider the next (or maybe next-but-one) developmental step.
Will we all lose our jobs because of artificial intelligence?
Let’s return to our original question: what actually happens when AI (at any stage of development) becomes a part of daily business routines? You might be led to believe that, as soon as this happens, jobs are at risk. Only recently, Zalando let 250 marketing employees goin order to increase the number of staff working in programming and development. So, in the future, will we all be working in IT?Should we push our children to study computer science?
“We predict that marketing in the future will need to be more data-based.” – Rubin Ritter from Zalando
Don’t panic! In the vast majority of cases, AI can’t replace entire jobs, processes or business models. For the most part, AI means supporting and increasing the value of human activities. After all, you have more time at your disposal if you’re able to pay less – or no – attention to administration and data analysis. To return to our example of marketing: AI cannot replace a human’s creative process.
How companies will change as a result of artificial intelligence
While you concentrate on core skills – thinking, leading and creating – a machine takes control of tiresome and tedious everyday tasks, or at least the initial stages of these tasks. For example, AI software can independently record working hours and create and send offers and invoices.
As well as supporting day-to-day project tasks, smart business software can help you improve your overall work. For example, based on working hours or an exceeded budget, AI can recognise that a project has been less successful than others. In this scenario, the software would notify you and automatically offer suggestions for improvement. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
We’ve already laid the foundations: Huge amounts of data are waiting to be evaluated
Daniel Rebhorn, managing partner at diconium, points out that our activities have already laid the foundations for future AI activities. And these foundations exist in the form of data.
“Using data, you can conquer completely new fields of business today. Data is the new gold.” – Oliver Kramer on AI
The vast amounts of data we’ve gathered now need to be evaluated and used. Because, let’s face it, not even the brightest professional has the mental capacity to match what a machine can do in the space of a few seconds. “In this computer-assisted era, we’re gathering data on a daily basis that only requires evaluation to help us learn more about customers, their products and the potential for optimisation. If big data is the first priority of intelligent automation, then analysis using AI is number two,” says Daniel Rebhorn, on the topic of AI in business.