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These #3 Technocrats will Tell you How AI Augments Productivity in Business AI is changing the rules of how business is done today, and the shift it has brought in is nowhere more apparent than in the productivity phase

By Baishali Mukherjee

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In a survey titled Reshaping Business with Artificial Intelligence, jointly conducted by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review last September, 84% of respondents said AI will enable them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage. And 83% considered AI to be a strategic priority for their businesses, while 75% believed AI will permit them to get into newer domains. The survey included interviews of more than 3,000 executives, managers and analysts living in 112 countries and working with 21 business houses.

AI changing the Dynamics of Business

Talk about artificially intelligent robots, and one is immediately reminded of scenes from Terminator or Matrix — a dystopian future where mankind is ruled by machines. The doomsday scenario today hasn't changed a lot. Tech leaders like Musk and Zuckerberg are on opposite sides of this debate — would AI make us better, or make us irrelevant? Weird things have been happening recently, from Amazon's Alexa organizing its own loud house party, to Google's AI bots developing a new language of their own to secretly communicate with each other. China reportedly turned off one of its AI bit after it started speaking out against Chinese government policies.

Amid all the hype and hoopla, one thing is true — AI is changing the rules of how business is done today, and the shift it has brought in is nowhere more apparent than in the productivity phase.

To gather more fascinating insights from new-age technocrats, Entrepreneur India got in touch with tech-preneurs who are revolutionising the productivity of their ventures with AI.

An Era of Uber-productivity and Deeper Exploration Lies Ahead

Enlightening on the extent of AI in the production domain, Dipanjan Purkayastha, Founder of Tygr and HyperXchange, said factories and warehouses today are run by robots controlled by AI, without a single human being present!

"Software products are embedding AI and Machine Learning to super-personalize it for users. Intelligent chatbots and voice recognition platforms are also transforming the way we manage contact centres and shop-fronts," he enthused.

Consumer and process data is becoming increasingly available and the power invested in parsing that data is increasing simultaneously. "We are seeing machines built to learn and improve technology already becoming ubiquitous. This will usher in an era of uber-productivity and deeper exploration for mankind. Think 24/7 factories, deep space robot-manned missions, mobile phone secretaries!" marvelled Purkayastha.

AI Increases Efficiency at a Fraction of the Resource Cost

Michael Lyngdoh, Co-founder of Tripoto, a travel portal, said AI increases productivity because we can outsource Big Data analysis and decision-making to systems that are exponentially faster. "We can ensure making fewer mistakes and the requirement for breaks and sick leaves like humans doesn't arise here," he opined.

This means that within a specific application or job description, AI increases efficiency at a fraction of the resource cost. This is the second machine age. We no longer need to create the rules that create the machine. We have created the machine that teaches itself the rules. AI can now do cognitive tasks that cannot be coded or taught, i.e. tasks only humans could do in the past.

Lyngdoh cited the example of facial recognition. "We took antiquated machines that worked in data silos but were great at computations. We gave them "life' by adding Machine Learning and the internet. This technology is possible today because computers are faster; the amount of digital data available is huge and Machine Learning algorithms have improved drastically over the last 30 years," illustrated the ISB, Hyderabad graduate.

AI Embodies Characteristics of General Purpose Technologies

Currently, there are two schools of thoughts in AI. First that says AI will soon replace human intelligence and hence human jobs, which in turn will reduce the overall economic productivity. Another school of thought says AI will augment human intelligence with additional decision making capabilities and hence improve the productivity.

Atul Rai, Co- founder of Delhi-based Staqu Technology, believes AI and Machine Learning embodies the characteristics of general purpose technologies. "The steam engine, electricity, the internal combustion engine, and computers are each examples of important general purpose technologies. Each of them increased productivity not only directly but also supported various important complementary innovations," he confirmed.

Today, it is established that the steam engine not only helped pump water from coal mines, its most important initial application. It has also spurred the invention of more effective factory machinery and new forms of transportation like steamships and railroads.

Technocrats predict that replacing human intelligence, though difficult, is not impossible. Whereas augmenting the human intelligence with new-age AI is something already in operation. "From assisting doctors in diagnosing the disease to helping police and security agencies in analysing criminal activity with AI already has started improving the overall productivity," iterated Rai, a Masters from University of Manchester in Artificial Intelligence.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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