AI: advancing in stages

Many thanks to sponsors Avasant and NIIT for last night’s Intelligent Sourcing magazine event at the Langham Hotel, London. The theme was intelligent enterprises and guest speaker Rohit Talwar pretty much blew the packed room away with his futurist’s vision of where AI was going.

He laid out a number of stages. The simple repetitive stuff that happens at the moment was commonplace enough, he suggested; then there were stages at which AI would develop empathy, be able to make decisions and ultimately think for itself. This was the stage people were a little afraid of; a machine that refuses to carry out an instruction because it’s got a better idea might just be a better decision maker than a human but the human isn’t going to see it that way.

Ultimately, and probably not in our lifetime, futurists are predicting the “singularity”, he said; the point at which humans and other creatures will be networked so, for example, we could gain insights into what’s happening to ecosystems because birds are seeing it from the air. He also raised the possibility of fragmenting data because of privacy concerns (so a retailer doesn’t need to know that customer no. 5073 is the same person who borrowed book X from the library two weeks ago, much though the advertisers might like to get hold of precisely this data).

The sponsors added real-life insights on what their customers were finding, but like the sponsors of all our best events they were more inclined to listen than speak. If we were pleased with the sponsors’ attitude then the attendees’ willingness to contribute made us even happier. An account of our regular events will appear in the new issue of Intelligent Sourcing magazine, although this particular event happened too late so will be reported in the June edition.

Once again, our thanks to all participants.

(The table setting in the picture isn’t of the actual event, although we did have some spare cutlery when they laid out a knife and fork for the starters – we’d all ordered soup…)

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