How artificial intelligence might help your company

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 07/13/2016

Pros, cons, and implications of artificial intelligence

When you hear artificial intelligence, what do you think of? The Terminator? Maybe R2-D2? AI has been integrating itself into several different areas of our lives; video games, household items, and even the way we do business. Let's talk about where we might see AI use in our lives today.

“Maybe the only significant difference between a really smart simulation and a human being was the noise they made when you punched them.”
-Terry Pratchett

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Coined by John McCarthy in the mid 1950s, Artificial Intelligence is defined as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”. This is to make an agent interpret it’s environment; then learn, think, and behave appropriately as a human would. And don't worry, I've provided some pretty awesome examples in the next few paragraphs.

Video Games

We see in video games where enemy AI’s will react to your actions and moves. For example, in Halo, if you try shooting at or throwing a grenade at an enemy AI, it will respond to your action by taking cover and lunging out the way. These AI’s are also able to communicate to each other. When you get spotted by an enemy, it will call to it’s allies to signal their attention. Or if a leader dies, the lower level enemies will flee.

Bungie found a correlation that the tougher an AI, the smarter it will seem. This is done through implementing unpredictable, yet commonsensical behavior. With more behavioral triggers and responses, it will appear to be unique and intelligent. They mention the creation of a behavioral tree that stems from fear, anger, defensiveness, and surprise to categorize an appropriate response to the player.

Personal Assistants

Let's talk about Cortana. The virtual personal assistant that learns more about the user as they interact. Through this AI, you can create tasks and reminders, send texts and emails, make calls, etc. What makes Cortana different is the personality aspect. Microsoft aims to make Cortana more intimate. She learns more about you as you interact. She remembers details about things the user likes and will in engage the user in conversations on such subject matter.

Self-driving Cars

The autonomous car hasn’t quite been released yet, but several companies have been testing theirs for a while now. Google, specifically, has logged over 190,000 miles with their self driving priuses. But the science behind it is the interesting part. First, they drive the roads manually once or twice to capture and record data of the environment. Pretty simple. Then when it’s the vehicle's turn to give it a go alone, it uses a Velodyne 64-beam laser to create a 3D interpretation of the environment as well as four radars around the vehicle. The vehicle will compare the old data to the new, which helps it distinguish pedestrians from stationary objects.

Some additional behaviors given include the ability to drive slightly more aggressively. And no, I don’t mean cutting people off and honking at them. The car will always obey road rules, but if at a four way intersection, the car will inch slowly to show it’s intentions.

I read a Buzzle article on some pros and cons of AI, and I really want to share it with you to spark some thoughts on integrating it with business/everyday life.

Pros

Precision and accuracy

Human error would be thing of the past. For example, your AI could review emails and documents and make spelling and grammar corrections.

Ability to continue programming themselves

Programmers can save time and stress coming up with every possible scenario. It also means the AI is learning.

Recommendations for daily life

This could mean the most optimal route coming from your GPS or maybe dietary and health related suggestions.

Fraud detection

Imagine creating an AI that manages records and detects fraud. Bank Info Security tells us about AIs tracking buying decisions and detecting fraud within bank accounts.

Repetitive and time consuming tasks

AIs have the advantage of working for long periods of time without losing efficiency because of boredom or lost interest. They could do monotonous tasks, or dangerous, life threatening tasks, which then increase human safety.

Cons

Cost of maintenance and repair

An issue could be the time and cost to repair AIs. Maybe it would be more cost effective to hire a human to perform the job.

Inability to act differently than programmed when the situation demands so

In business, we need to quickly change our behavior and attitude based on the situation. Can the AI interpret the thoughts and feelings during an interaction? If not, and they respond insensitively or inappropriately, you could lose a customer.

Lack of human touch

With the use of AI, you lose that human touch, the creative mind, and the common sense. I mean, yes, Artificial intelligence is really cool, and talking to a robot would be awesome; but depending on your industry, you might be giving up more than you’re receiving.

Unemployment

I feel like a lot of people fear robots replacing humans. I mean, with robots programming themselves, there really aren’t any jobs left. Just kidding! However, WEF research does show by 2020, about 5.1 million jobs could be replaced by robots. But there will always be a need for that human touch, right?

Becoming dependant on machines

In some articles I read, the idea of becoming dependant on machines was brought up. I get it, I really do. I use my phone’s GPS all of the time, I don’t think I can travel anywhere new without it. With too much AI useage in our lives, our abilities as humans could just vanish.

Microsoft's "Tay"

This example is so important. Microsoft released an AI “Tay” to the world of Twitter, where it began engaging with and learning from Twitter’s users. Tay went from playful and casual, to incredibly offensive.

I think that when an AI learns and programs itself, the environment it’s in pretty much shapes what it turns into. Tay doesn’t have those human capabilities, and the unfortunate result is just a product of the environment it was dropped into.

Could this affect marketing?

Customer service

AI chat services could change the way companies handle several customer service aspects. Complaints, check-ins, updates on flights or bus schedules. These services could then extend to chat conversations, as in calming angry customers, providing information, or providing updates and facts on your purchase.

Analytics

AIs could analyze big data literally, while you sleep. Then, first thing in the morning, you have quick results, and you’re ready to work with your marketing team to implement some strategies.

Ad targeting

Going hand in hand with analytics, you can use data to accurately predict the behavior of customers. Using AIs in this process will make it faster and much more reliable. I found a video from the movie, Minority Report, of an interesting spin on personal advertising. It’s just something to think about.



I'm sure we all have conflicting feelings about this video. Seems almost invasive, doesn't it? Yet, the ads sensed his stressed state, and targeted him with ads of alcohol and vacations.

Tell us how you use artificial intelligence in your business!