Headlines are everywhere with predictions about how artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform virtually all businesses, including the potential for re-engineering our work force. Corporate giants, governments and universities are already investing heavily in AI on a global basis. Our March 21 program, “AI: How Will it Reshape Your Company?” took place at Nokia Bell Labs. Following a discussion forum moderated by Nick Donofrio, Founder & CEO of NMD Consulting LLC, and featuring Joel Jacobs, Vice President & Chief Information Officer of The MITRE Corporation, Dr. Chris White, AAAID Research Lab Leader of Bell Labs and Dr. JT Kostman, Chief Data Scientist of Grant Thornton, the program opened into a highly participative discussion session, and concluded with a selection of demonstrations of practical applications of AI presented by Nokia. High points of the program are summarized as follows:
Artificial Intelligence is a broadly discussed topic in both business forums and popular media. Often it is treated as a digital age phenomenon. The reality is, it has existed for decades, albeit with different names and understandings, such as electronic brains and, beginning in the late 60’s, machine learning.
The current prominence of AI is largely driven by the dramatic reduction in the cost of processing, storing, and retrieving information. The result has been the broad availability of data. A caution about this availability is an assumption that it is all accurate. In fact, it may contain errors generated at the source or subsequently in an evolving form of sabotage.
Directors must ask how can AI be used to disrupt their business, particularly an AI that goes awry.
The impending impact of AI is transformative along the scale of Thomas Edison’s demonstration of the power of electricity. In 1882 Edison changed the world and its future by lighting up one square mile of lower Manhattan. This is analogous to where we are today with the future power of AI.
AI will have its most immediate and greatest impact on SG&A. The largest cost of most businesses is people. In one example of an application at a large large global bank, work that takes 360 hours takes just 3 minutes and is more accurate with AI.
A counter to the pessimistic position of the elimination of people work is the view that a more accurate and appropriate term for AI is Augmented Intelligence. The essential meaning of this perspective is Augmented Intelligence will make workers smarter and better at what they do. Most people-centric companies today are resource scarce and will benefit from AI, especially in businesses and roles where more Intelligence is needed.
The current state of AI is limited by the availability of data. So much so that one belief is we will see flying cars before we have autonomous systems!
One conclusion is, it is important to create systems based on how people and systems can function together. Be careful to avoid a belief that technology will do everything. The operating model is that everyone will have access to artificial intelligence. We shouldn’t care if artificial intelligence is “inside.” We should care about what it does or how it improves what we do. When presented with a proposition of a capability or a company operating with AI, it is essential to look “under the hood.”
Directors must know how a company works and avoid over reliance on experts. Even, or especially, with AI, directors and investors must be active; they must exercise their duty of care. In other words, they cannot delegate to assertions that AI has the answers.
There is a strong caution that AI is likely to be the new frontier of cyber attacks. Weaponized AI will be more persistent, more advanced than what is experienced today. Criminals and other bad actors will feed bad data into systems. Directors must ask how data was validated and ask if the company knows the source of the data. Who stands up to the data’s pedigree?
The greatest fear of experts is apathy. For boards- to be digital savvy, they must ask questions.
People will not go away. AI will make people smarter and more competent. Replacing people by the millions is what technology has always done. As a result, demand for products and services will grow exponentially.
Joel Jacobs is vice president and chief
information officer (CIO) of The MITRE
Corporation. He leads the Enterprise
Computing, Information, and Security (ECIS) organization, providing
comprehensive information technology (IT), knowledge management,
and enterprise technical computing, to enable MITRE staff to
effectively serve the company's sponsors.
Under Jacobs' leadership, MITRE has been recognized for its
innovative IT practices and for its outstanding work environment for
technology professionals. CIO Magazine named MITRE to its CIO 100
list in 2014 and 2018. Computerworld has repeatedly listed MITRE
among the country's 100 Best Places to Work in IT (2005–2012, 2016,
2018). The company was a North American Most Admired Knowledge
Enterprises (MAKE) award winner four times (2009, 2011, 2015,
2016). InformationWeek named MITRE among the most innovative
users of business technology five times (2011–2013, 2016–2017). In
2017, MITRE received the Help Desk Institute's Team Excellence
Award for customer service and was named to the Security 500.
In 2018, IDG CIO elected Jacobs to the CIO Hall of Fame, which
spotlights IT leaders who have profoundly influenced the IT discipline,
the use of technology in business, and the advancement of the CIO
role. He also received the Boston CIO Leadership Association’s 2018
ORBIE Award as Non-Profit/Public Sector CIO of the Year.
Jacobs was honored as a Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader in
2011 and as a Boston Business Journal/Mass High Tech CIO of the
Year in 2012. In 2015, STEMconnectorÂ® named Jacobs among its 100
CIO/CTO Leaders in STEM in recognition of MITRE's dedication to
supporting STEM initiatives. He was also a 2015 Federal Computer
Week Federal 100 Award winner.
Jacobs holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and natural science
from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2004, he completed the
Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School.
Nicholas M. Donofrio began his career in 1964 at IBM, where he remained for 44 years in increasingly responsible roles, including those of division president for advanced workshops, general manager of the large-scale computing division, and executive vice president of innovation and technology. He is a member of several global technical societies, the recipient of several awards and honor as well as 9 honorary degrees. He served a term as a Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation (2009-2012) and as a member of the US Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board (2008-2012). Donofrio currently serves on the boards of several, small, medium and large public and private companies. He is also an Executive in Residence at Columbia University, School of Professional Services. Additionally, he is focused sharply on advancing education, employment and career opportunities for underrepresented minorities and women.
He is the founder and CEO of NMD Consulting, LLC.
CHRISTOPHER A. WHITE leads the Algorithms, Analytics, Augmented Intelligence and Devices (AAAID) research lab in Bell Labs. He joined Bell Labs in 1997 after graduating with a Ph.D. in theoretical quantum chemistry from the University of California in Berkeley, California. His research interests include the development of computational models and methods for the simulation and control of interesting physical and digital systems. This has included work in areas ranging from linear scaling quantum chemistry simulations, to the design of new optical devices, to the global control of transparent optical mesh networks and to understanding and facilitating the propagation of ideas in organizations. In addition to the management of an international team of world-class researchers, Dr. White’s current work focuses on the creation of assisted thinking tools that leverage structural similarity in data with the goal of augmenting human intelligence.
Dr. Kostman is a Data Scientist, Mathematician, and Psychologist - and has been recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on Applied Artificial Intelligence.
JT has tracked criminal networks for the FBI, hunted terrorists for the CIA, and led social media analysis and strategy for the 2012 Obama Campaign. In the private sector, JT served as Chief Data Scientist for Samsung and Chief Data Officer for Time Inc. He now leads the Applied Artificial Intelligence and Frontier Technologies practice for Grant Thornton.