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Why think in the past when you can dream of the future?


Start dreaming

Why think in the past when you can dream of the future? Well, one could argue our journey to where we are now has been an education of what has happened to us in our past. However, constantly thinking of the past doesn’t get us anywhere, apart from learning from our mistakes (hopefully).

Personally, structure is important to me but I don’t believe every solution is solved by a framework. Sometimes you should think a little more creatively and ask yourself, “if I were the customer, what would I like to see as the end product?”.

Our future world is intriguing, changing, and can be inspiring, even if we can’t all be visionaries. Nevertheless, this should not prevent us from asking ourselves where our dreams might lead or how the world might benefit from the realization of our dreams. In order to achieve those dreams, we need the companion of technology to drive progress, and AI has become that enabler.

In 2018, we continued to see the power and influence of AI in business, not just for the benefit of customer engagement but also in other areas of our lives, such as improvement in healthcare, the use of biometrics, and machine learning. Driven by AI technology, the innovators of this world continue to open new horizons and turn many dreams that you and I encounter every day into solutions  – as a customer or to solve a business need.

But before you start dreaming of AI gamechangers of your own, let me share where some of those dreams may have been triggered from in the past and how these are turning into a future reality.

The world I grew up in, Jim

As a child, watching programs such as Star Trek caught everyone’s imagination of what we might achieve in space, and the use of technology in the future. For example, computers that integrate with you – that couldn’t happen, could it?

The early 1970s world I grew up in was nowhere near Captain Kirk’s. The UK at the time was at the mercy of work unions, burning fossil fuels was the main source of electricity, and Polaroid cameras provided grownups with instant selfies. Culturally and technologically, it was a very different environment and I think it would have bemused Spock; “irrational, illogical” he may conclude.

Fast forward from the 70s to the early 80s: fictional technology has brought about a different depiction of the future through the film Bladerunner. A dystopian world of humans mixed with replicants – and the only way to tell them apart being either interrogation or an eye retina machine (VOICOM) that measures fluctuations in the pupils, high blood pressure, and stress in the victim. Imagine something like that.

So, when I came across an article about the launch of a Google AI algorithm that included a picture of a machine scanning a retina, I was curious. I instantly thought Bladerunner, but then carried on thinking how much AI is influencing the world around us today and the interaction it has had with our lives.

Seeing into the future

Of course, I am not suggesting that all AI ideas came directly from science fiction, but there are similarities with future technology. This, for me, is where we start to see dreams become reality.

In the case of the AI algorithm, it is a piece of software that can analyze scans of the back of a patient’s eye to deduce the individual’s age, blood pressure, and whether they smoke. The algorithm makes it quicker to analyze a patient’s risk of a heart attack without the need of a blood test; saving time and reducing the potential risk of losing a life. Along with other wearable devices we see on the market today, being able to analyze patient data this way will allow patients to be more proactive and prevent many potential health risks. This offers a more personalized, yet efficient experience for consumers when managing their own health.

Speaking of the future

It’s not just preventing loss of life that AI is making headway into. Biometric technologies made more of an impact than ever in 2018. Financial sectors have used these technologies to prevent fraud and safe guard customer accounts.

Biometrics can simply be put into two categories: identification (physical e.g., fingerprint access) and recognition (behavioral, e.g. speech). More and more people are signing up for voice recognition across banks and tax services, so they can say goodbye to remembering all their different PINS.

Machine learning

Machine learning already touches our lives in many ways. We don’t always see it, but it is there in a lot of our day-to-day interactions, from a navigation system in your car to effective web searching.

The main principle of its existence though is for a computer to learn from itself, so that it can make more informed decisions in the future without human intervention. Chatbots, which serve as a knowledge management tool and are automated to learn/ask questions while having a conversation with you, are another example.

Machines or back to humans?

There has been an impending fear in the workforce that machines are taking on too much, ultimately leading to a loss of jobs and a potential revolt.

The reality is that with the advancement of new technology new roles will need to be created to manage these skills. What we should be thinking about is how consumers are continuing to interact with ever-evolving channels, and what we can learn from that. This is where AI will be fundamental in the future, and it will be upon us to find the balance between AI and human work.

What can we expect from AI in 2019?

The main changes we will likely see involve improving what we already have – for example, AI engines, where developers can incorporate vision, speech, language, and knowledge capabilities into applications, websites, and chatbots.

According to Forbes, advancement does not stop there, as major players in the market are investing heavily in developing AI and bringing it closer to customer engagement.

“Closer to customer engagement;” by this we mean the future of AI-enabled experiences for consumers. As the innovators of the world allow AI to enter into our daily lives, I would expect a human presence to be maintained, just in case that chatbot I’m talking to turns out to be a dreamer, a bit like me.