5 issues that will shape the future, according to the experts

By: Mark Jones November 12, 2017

Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/global-future-councils-2017-dubai-highlights

Our future’s bright: new technology promises solutions to the world’s biggest problems. But the future’s also frightening: accelerating change is disrupting every aspect of life

Seven hundred experts from the World Economic Forum’s “Future Councils” just met in Dubai to plot a path through these competing forces. Here are some of the key talking points and a small selection of the ideas proposed …

1. The quantity of information is growing at a dizzying speed.

Now’s the time to focus on quality. With more data available than ever before you’d think that the specialists behind these disciplines would be riding high. But many say that those involved in news, information, science – almost anything involving expertise – are having to re-justify themselves.


Proposal: What if we rose to the challenge of “fake news” with a universal standard in media and digital literacy with education on the rights and responsibilities of citizens?


2. Data isn’t enough. It needs to be relatable and actionable.

Big data is enabling the designers of products and services to discover things about human behaviour never spotted before. But might “small data” be an even more powerful agent of change?


Proposal: What if personal health monitors on mobiles lead to behavioural changes in diet and activity that all our research and education have so far failed to achieve?


3. Blockchain could manage everything

Confused about blockchain? Just think of it as a smart kind of database that can track anything. That makes it super-useful for previously intractable global problems.


Proposal: What if blockchain can help us feed a more populous world by conquering the fear of genetically modified crops and lab-grown food?


4. Look at the big picture before you decide what problems need solving

The Forum has just made public its “Transformation Maps” to underline the close links between our biggest global challenges. Zooming out to look at the world in terms of “systems” – how things are linked rather than how they are separated – frees specialists of all kinds to look at challenges afresh. Here’s Robert Muggah talking about how cities are the vital link in the chain when it comes to finding global solutions.

Proposal: What if instead of building more and better types of roads with new technology, we invested in collaborative platforms such as Uber to use current roads much more intensively?

5. It all comes back to trust

Experts tend to be optimists. Yet there’s a clear understanding that the wider public has deep anxieties about the pace of change. If you are worried about losing your job, having to re-skill, or not being able to keep up with the pace of change, it’s easy to start to feel the general system is not acting in your favour and that breeds mistrust. Society is struggling to adapt as fast as technology is moving, leading to suggestions we need to slow the pace of change through regulation, or spread its benefits via things like taxes on robots.

Proposal: What if we can’t adapt as fast as technology and we have to find ways of slowing the pace of change like taxes on robots or other forms of regulation?

AI Gains Ground With IT and Business Leaders

By: Samuel Greengard September 27, 2017

Source: http://www.baselinemag.com/innovation/ai-gains-ground-with-it-and-business-leaders.html

The opportunities to put AI to work include high-level strategic decision-making, customer service, product development, marketing, cyber-security and much more.

Operating smarter and cost-effectively is the goal of every organization. But gaining deep insights into activities, events and processes is often a daunting task—particularly as the data deluge grows and making real-time decisions becomes a critical requirement. As a result, business and IT leaders across a wide swath of industries are increasingly tapping artificial intelligence (AI) to take insight and performance to an entirely new level.

A 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit report, “Artificial Intelligence in the Real World,” noted that 75 percent of business executives surveyed believe AI will be actively used in their company within the next three years.

“The technology provides answers to important questions, and it delivers transformative capabilities for organizations,” observes Nicola Morini Bianzino, global lead of AI for Accenture. “It helps organizations meet objectives and move to new digital business models.”

Over the past couple of years, AI technology—including cognitive computing, deep learning and other components of machine learning—has taken a giant leap forward. Far more sophisticated features and capabilities have emerged, and the ecosystems of business and IT platforms using AI have expanded dramatically.

“We have gotten to the point where if you don’t move forward with AI—and move fast—you’re at the risk of being left behind,” Bianzino warns.

“AI helps organizations take action quicker and in a more agile manner,” adds Victor Thu, global head of product marketing at Digitate, an AI division of consulting firm TCS.

Diving Into Disruption

The opportunities to put AI to work aren’t lost on today’s business and IT leaders. The technology has ramifications for high-level strategic decision-making, customer service, product development, marketing, cyber-security and much more. Market research firm IDC found that 40 percent of all digital transformation initiatives—and 100 percent of all effective internet of things (IoT) efforts—will plug in cognitive or AI capabilities by 2019.

Yet, it’s tempting for business and IT leaders to think of AI in somewhat monolithic terms. The reality, however, is that it’s a vast array of technologies and solutions that infuse software and systems with greater smarts.

The field spans cognitive computing (an IBM-created term that refers to technology that generally addresses human problems), deep learning (which taps complex artificial neural nets to spot correlations and other patterns), and machine learning (which allows computers to learn and adapt algorithms without human intervention and explicit programming). These fields increasingly overlap and intertwine.

Accenture’s Bianzino says that discussions about AI are rapidly moving away from specific topics such as computer vision, natural-language processing and specific machine learning algorithms—all important and valuable pieces of the puzzle—to a more holistic, nuanced and multidimensional view of the space.

“The focus is on the engagement of a strategy to transform processes and create greater overall value,” he explains. Moving forward, “There’s less of a technology specific view—such as what Alexa can do or how an image processing chip can deliver benefits—than thinking about how to transform a process or solve a major business challenge.”

There are also opportunities to take IT systems and cyber-security to a more advanced level through artificial intelligence. Digitate’s Thu says that the technology can help organizations manage internal IT resources more effectively, pinpoint system problems more quickly, and reduce the risk of breakdowns or outages that could cripple the enterprise.