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AI: The New Frontier in 21st Century Technology

The title of this article comes from one of the many memorable quotes I heard from one of the speakers at IBM’s THINK 2019 conference podcast which was conducted recently at San Francisco. This is one of the most impactful major conferences focused on AI, data, and technology that drive businesses today. Here is a summary of some takeaways I personally liked.

Data is a Competitive Advantage
Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO came out vocal in her “Chairman’s Presentation” with another thoughtful statement that “Data is the basis for the competitive advantage.” In other words, data helps you know more about your customers, manage processes, get a hand on the inventory, and much more.
However from a broader picture Data means nothing if we can’t know how to use it well. That’s where AI comes in and makes Data come to life. When we use it properly we can streamline our operations and offer customers/ employees a better experience which is a competitive advantage.

It's Still About People
Ginni Rometty’s closing comments during her speech emphasized on human beings and not AI as they build platforms. Two years ago, she remarked that if you flip the letters AI, they become IA, which stands for Intelligent Assistant.
AI is more about supporting people and making them smarter, not replacing people. Last year she also suggested a new meaning for the letters AI i.e. augmented Intelligence who emphasized that AI should support people.
Staying consistent is need of hour, “While we talk about tech, its people who change the world.”

AI and IOT can dramatically improve processes
One of my favorite podcasts at the conference was on five inventions that will change the world in the next five years to come. While this year’s focus was on food as the population grows, food becomes a more pressing issue.
Actually, it’s the inefficiency in producing and distributing it that is important. One-third of all food produced goes to waste. This occurs before we ever buy the food. Bad farming, bad weather, spoilage during shipping, and more contribute to the problem. One example claimed that 150 billion oranges are wasted each year and it takes 7.5 trillion liters of water to harvest them. That’s a lot of waste. Imagine sensors being placed throughout the process in the ground, on the plants, the farming equipment, the trucks, etc. These sensors communicate with a device, such as a computer or a smart phone, to determine the optimal time to plant, water, pick, deliver, etc.
AI interprets the data and helps manage the process, creating major efficiencies that will have a massive impact on future. That’s the power of integrating Blockchain, IOT, data, and AI which are almost limitless if we look from an overall technological picture in the near future.

AI Can Keep You Healthy and Help You Live Longer
Consumerization of healthcare and IT usage is growing day by day and the concept of preventative care versus reactive care is growing. Healthcare shouldn’t be “sick-care.”
Health is about staying healthy. While genetics can cause sickness, consider that 40% of health problems come from bad behaviors; bad diet, lack of fitness, etc. 10% is tied to your zip code i.e. the environment in which you live.
Technology can help predict problems long before they take place. Your data is compared to millions of other patient’s data anonymously. AI can jump to predict and direct the best course of action, ideally preventing sickness before it happens thus helping you to live a life free of diseases.

AI Can Help Make the World a Better Place
The problem every company faces post a backlash is a trust problem. This becomes a business opportunity for another company. The company that builds trust, has transparency, and loves its customers has a great opportunity compared to those that have lost trust.
Furthermore, we need social media stories to make ourselves sound safe, secure, and trustworthy. There should be no data breaches, no misuse of information. It is AI that should be the technology penicillin for the 21st century judiciously.
What can we take away from all of this? AI clearly has many uses and can definitely skyrocket companies to the next level. But it’s not the only ultimate solution to any problem that will arise.
AI should be incorporated where possible but it should not replace human beings completely. Instead, human beings should aim to work alongside AI with the joint goal being to create a better unified experience and journey for employees and customers alike.
What are your views on AI as the new frontier in Technology? Please share your valuable feedback.

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