The term Artificial Intelligence has been the center of debate, speculation, and even fantasy for years, if not decades now. Meanwhile, while there are mature enterprise AI solutions available on the market today, there is also more misinformation than real information. Due to the incessant use of buzzwords, a lot of business executives don’t really understand what AI is and can do, or perhaps worse, they think they understand but don’t really.
If we want to have an adult conversation about AI, what it can and cannot do, and how it will transform the economy in the coming years, we need to clarify two or three points:
1. No, Artificial Intelligence Is Not About to Take Over the World
Regardless of what you may see in movies, read in books, or hear from certain pessimistic thought leaders, we are still far, far away from developing an “Artificial General Intelligence” (AGI), that is an AI that is capable of thinking and behaving like a human being – such as creative thinking, adapting to new tasks, etc. As a recent report authored by leading academics pointed out:
Tasks for AI systems are often framed in narrow contexts for the sake of making progress on a specific problem or application. While machines may exhibit stellar performance on a certain task, performance may degrade dramatically if the task is modified even slightly. For example, a human who can read Chinese characters would likely understand Chinese speech, know something about Chinese culture and even make good recommendations at Chinese restaurants. In contrast, very different AI systems would be needed for each of these tasks.
2. Artificial Intelligence Is Serious Science
Artificial Intelligence isn’t something that comes out of science-fiction or dystopian stories, it is a branch of computer science founded by brilliant computer scientists in the 1950s like Alan Turing or John McCarthy who sought to address specific problems. And while Alan Turing did dream of the day a machine would be capable of true intelligence, as his famed “Turing Test” reveals, AI has been developed over the past decades using different types of techniques and approaches to address specific problems human beings encounter. We call this “Narrow Artificial Intelligence”, in opposition to AGI.
3. Artificial Intelligence is Enterprise-Ready
While, as seen above, we are still far from developing an AI capable of behaving like a human being, Artificial Intelligence solutions are today available on the market and fully enterprise-ready. The challenge is no longer finding an AI solution that works, but finding an AI solution that works for you and fits your priorities. You have different schools of AI – statistical vs. deterministic – that are neither superior nor inferior to one-another but that address different types of needs. Under each school, you’ve got different types of solutions addressing each a specific problem: need to structure unstructured data? You want to look at Natural Language Understanding. Want to understand patterns in your data lakes? Check out data discovery tools.
Whit Andrews, Gartner Vice President and analyst, phrased the first question to ask yourself: “what matters the most to you and the business is where you should use AI. If you’re exploring AI for your business, pursue something that is critical to your organization.” If you’re interested in learning more about Artificial Intelligence and how it is changing business, download our latest eBook to learn how to identify common myths and how to make the most out of this new technology: