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The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Podcast host Tania Salarvand | Podcast guest Dr. Andrew McAfee
July 26, 2019 | 16 min 3 sec

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Brief summary

AI, and in particular Machine Learning, is having a huge impact on the business world. MIT scientist, Dr. Andrew McAfee, discusses the future of Artificial intelligence and the ways in which we underestimate its power and influence. If you are a digital leader, wanting to understand how the progress of this technology is changing business, the economy, and society, this is the podcast for you. Find Dr. McAfee's full talk from ParadigmShift at www.thoughtworks.com/paradigmshift


The dominant strain of Artificial Intelligence is Machine Learning and I think it will continue to be for a long time. I can’t think of an industry that is not being affected by right now, and that will not be affected a lot more in the not-too-distant future by this new category of technology. 

What we’re learning is how incredibly powerful Machine Learning systems are at different kinds of classification. What I’m really excited about is that Machine Learning systems are breaking out of the sandbox of playing games and they’re doing really powerful things in the real world -- diagnosing disease, translating among languages, detecting fraud. 

To use Machine Learning systems strategically, companies must have a deep-wired cultural preference for making decisions analytically, as opposed to based on gut, judgement, intuition, seniority, charisma, politics, or table-pounding skills. I’m really interested in the hard work organizations are doing to minimize these things and make decisions on the best available evidence. 

Adapting Machine Learning for decision-making can cause wrenching changes for a lot of organizations. If the best available evidence comes from a Machine Learning system, as opposed to a person that’s been doing that job for 20 years, if that system is better the companies should go with it.

The world of sports can confidently prove that older, more established organizations that aren’t born digital can still shift to making decisions analytically. In the past 20-25 years, in almost all the major sports, the smart, well-managed teams are bringing in data-minded people to do a ton of analysis to inform decisions about players, strategies, tactics and anything to do with the sport. 

If you ask a clear question and the analytics team comes back and says you should do the following four things differently, a lot of organizations do zero of those four things differently. All these processes of the status quo and inertia and politics come into play and companies come up with 24 reasons not to do those four things differently. You just see this happen over and over. 

If companies invest in Machine Learning capabilities to change the way they do human capital processes, performance goes up. It lets talent shine through. It lets diamonds be detected more easily. 

There’s nothing about Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning that overturns the fundamental rule of computing which is garbage in, garbage out. If you train these systems on biased or flawed data, they’re going to give you biased and flawed decisions. 

If you’ve been a historically underrepresented member of a community, technology will give you chances to manifest what you can do. You can learn more quickly, you can make your skills and abilities more visible, and if companies change their decision-making processes you will have a better shot at realizing your full capabilities. 

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