Damien and I recently had the pleasure of attending an NPA event “The Technological Revolution & the rise in Inequality. Are they linked?” Keynote by Cory J. Steinhauer. By far the most thought-provoking hour I have had in a long while.
The session covered technological advances and the hype of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is enthralling the public. Evoking hopes of productivity and fears of inequality – arguably the most common concern raised about emerging tech. Without a knowledgeable and mobilised social sector, technology and the rising demand for high skilled labour will leave many people behind. Culminating in how and if NFP organisations and their leaders were prepared to respond.
Cory gave great insight into what AI actually is, a common misconception is that it’s the robots that are going to take our jobs. It is, in fact, any automated task that would have taken a human developing intelligence to complete.
AI is a group of technologies that are capable of performing tasks autonomously, which if performed by a human, would be considered to require intelligence.
So, ‘intelligence’ in this sense is considered a property of AI systems, rather than AI actually being intelligent.
AI is now being considered as a ‘General Purpose Technology’. Meaning that much like once cutting-edge innovations like electricity, the steam engine, the internet, are now readily available to society. The flexibilities and strength of AI have many applications which in turn bring many opportunities. However, this also brings many risks “with great power come great responsibility”.
Many organisations and people are using AI as part of the everyday lives. Big data and data analysis is key to many business processes. Automation, whether it be process or mechanical. The fact is that we cannot be mistrust or be fearful of AI and the subsequent changes it will bring. Nor am I suggesting that we impulsively embrace it completely. I would, however, suggest that we all take calculated risks to introduce AI into our businesses, where possible, to ensure that we are gaining benefits from the associated opportunities; higher productivity, higher output, better use of resources and finding a better use for the high-level skills that are in demand.
It may seem fairly obvious that you cannot just embrace the latest and greatest technology buzzwords into your organisation without some pre-planning and thought. Just because you heard your mate discuss over the BBQ last weekend about ‘AI powering the next industrial revolution’ doesn’t mean you can jump in head first. It is a fundamental change in how computing works and with it brings huge amounts of change at a macro level. The federal government announced it will allocate $30 million to the CSIRO and Data61 to support the development of the nation’s AI and machine learning capability, including a technology roadmap, a standards framework and a national AI ethics framework. In comparison to how China and our other Asian neighbours are approaching AI, they’re putting hundreds of millions and billions into AI, not $30 million. There’s probably a misunderstanding of how important it is.
At the end of the day, you should neither wait until AI is perfect before examining it for your business needs nor jump forward without considering shortcomings. Like anything else, AI is a tool that can help or hinder a business. Which one it winds up doing for your company depends on your needs, how you implement technology and processes, and your patience.
Audit your IT and associated business processes. Look internally at what you have in-house. What is the right data infrastructure? What kind of human capital do you need? Do you have the required data—volume and quality? Do you have the right people? Do you know how to set up the basic infrastructure? Do you know how to tune your model? BlueScale can deliver this for your organisation, contact us for more information.
Ask. Get recommendations. Where can you apply AI techniques to get real improvements? Understand the available use cases for AI, and note those places where you can apply AI techniques to get real benefits—for instance, saving employee hours, decreasing response times, and saving expense on material repair and replacement.
AI is a game changer. Embrace the discomfort through a measured approach and a certain level of unease. Plan, experiment and give it time.
BlueScale is a boutique MSP who specialises in SMB and NFP organisations in NSW. We work with clients to manage their IT end to end, much like an outsourced internal IT department. We specialise in managing:
- IT procurement, along with subsequent vendor and supplier relationship management
- Enterprise architecture design and direction
- Project planning and implementation
- IT operations and ongoing user support
Coupled with our experience in IT management and strategy reporting to Board, CEO, Business Management and User layers, we act as an economical virtual IT department for complete business technology requirements.