Artificial Intelligence: Engage, but thread with care

March 6, 2020


It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was considered far off. Maybe even something that was meant to remain science fiction. But the persistent efforts over almost 80 years made that AI is now present in your pocket, your home, your garage, your office, and even your favourite supermarket. And to imagine AIs were relatively rare no more than five years ago.


“AIs can outperform humans on certain tasks. They can do tasks more efficiently. And they don’t complain as much.”

Now, today’s AI isn’t yet the intelligence that powers dystopian nightmares. But systems designed and developed to simulate human cognitive capabilities, narrowly focussed on solving one problem at a time, see their presence increase exponentially. And that’s because AIs can outperform humans on certain tasks. They can do tasks more efficiently. And they don’t complain as much.

The opportunities AI offers are not limited to improving operations, removing redundancies or optimising the value-chain – they range from autonomous vehicles to fighting global pandemics. The thing to make all this possible? Data.

With increased availability of data of all sorts and kinds as we have witnessed over the last few years comes increased capability of learning from that data. And the idea is simple: If your data is good, useful and plenty (and you have a solid strategy to support that), then you can apply learning systems that use your data and offer solutions to the problem you are trying to solve. Anything that can be digitised can, in theory, be used as input for learning machines. 


This means that a major shift is at hand in most industries as we note more and more industries are enabled to solve their prediction problems with AI. This brings along a whole new set of challenges that may not have existed in the past – not least of which the uncertainty that comes from the use of systems whose outcomes are not always guaranteed or explainable. Having to deal with such risks seems to already become increasingly important; because they’re already turning into crises.

Example: If the data is flawed, biased or even discriminatory, this can do serious harm to your reputation. Right, Google? And don’t forget: not all data can be used for whatever purpose you want. Abusing data kills reputations and destroys companies (don’t be like Cambridge Analytica or Clearview AI, be like Facebook). 


So: Engage, but thread with care. That’s our advice. Using AI can provide your organisation with extraordinary benefits. But risks are always present. Managing these risks equates to managing your reputation – never more so than with these new technologies.

When building these systems, know why you are building it. When you are using it, know why you are using it. When the system guides you to wrong choices, make sure that you have a crisis playbook in place. Adopt ethical principles (such as these) that your systems must follow. It’s impossible to say that it will never go wrong. So be prepared for when it does.

We view the emergence of AI as a development that will shape our collective futures. So, we want to help you manage these technologies to strengthen your organisation as we move deeper into the age of exponential progress: the Exponential Age.

A development like Artificial Intelligence poses many new challenges for many different professions. And communications is no different. As we are moving to expand and strengthen our knowledge and capabilities, we know we cannot do that alone. Are you working on, or with, AI (powered) applications in your organisation? Or are you interested how we can help you get AI right? Reach out to me at [email protected] or shoot me a message!

Photo by David Yu from Pexels.