Article | December 11, 2020
Intelligence is a much-debated term, with varying connotations to distinct disciplines. Humans have an innate intelligence that is capable of achieving complex, integrative goals through multiple faculties. These faculties involve learning and creativity, deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, critical thinking, strategy and planning, scenario analysis, and more. Humans have an evolutionary mind that is capable of drawing inferences and insights.
Creating machines, bots, or capabilities imbued with human-like intelligence has fascinated humans for a long time and has been the subject of active technical effort since John McCarthy coined the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI). Interest in AI has waxed and waned, with unrealized hype leading to a long AI winter. However, recent advances, such as Hinton’s backpropagation based deep neural networks for ImageNet that match human accuracy for image recognition, have revived hope and optimism for the advent of ‘Artificial General Intelligence’ (AGI).
AGI is about emulating or even exceeding, human levels of intelligence. At the moment, it is more of a pipe dream in the realm of sci-fi movies like Terminator. Silicon Valley leaders and scientists like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking have predicted a dystopian, even Frankensteinian, world with recursively- improving technological singularity potentially turning against the humans.
Strong Vs. Weak AI
Weak or narrow AI is categorized as mimicking a specific human ability to perform a well-defined task. Humans seem to have become pretty good at aspects of narrow AI lately, such as natural language processing (NLP), image recognition, machine translation, and detecting fraudulent credit card transactions. In the words of Andrew Ng, any task that takes a few minutes of human cognition can be automated with supervised machine learning and the help of labeled data. Recent advances in machine and deep learning have upped the ante on weak AI. For example, DeepMind’s AlphaFold can solve the intractable problem of predicting a protein’s folding structure from its amino acid sequence, thereby circumventing years of laborious work. This goes far beyond narrow AI into the gray zone.
Strong AI, or artificial general intelligence, can solve present-day ‘AI-hard’ problems that require a complex interplay of human cognitive abilities. For example, understanding the nuances of language is hard, but humans are slowly making strides. Some human skills are multifactorial, such as driving that requires image recognition, fine motor skills, or estimation with a high degree of situational awareness. A point has been reached where a self-driving car with level five autonomy can emulate that with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) while being vulnerable to getting tricked at the same time.
Leading voices have articulated several benchmarks for having accomplished AGI, such as:
Turing test: If a human and machine are indistinguishable most of the time while conversing with another human. With OpenAI’s GPT-n series, that is probably not far away.
A bot or computational system successfully passes grad school.
An AGI bot becomes a productive member of society, possibly paying taxes while performing a complex job.
Emulating the Human Brain
Unraveling the human brain is as enigmatic as solving the mysteries of the cosmos. With approximately 100 billion neurons interconnected through a quadrillion synapses, leading to 100 trillion synaptic updates per second (SUPS), the human brain is inordinately complex to simulate. Other than the interconnectedness of the brain, its evolutionary neurophysiology at the molecular and cellular level requires a level of chemical, physical, and biological understanding that leaves one confounded. How the three-pound mass of mostly fat, protein and water, with neurons firing in a chemical soup, allows cognitive abilities is quite hard to fathom.
All the advances in artificial neural networks, IoT sensing, 5G bandwidth, real-time big data, GPUs or TPUs, and storage put together get nowhere close to creating a computational system that has characteristics of sentience, self-awareness, sapience, and consciousness. Some even argue that there can be no human-like intelligence and consciousness without the accompanying embodiment.
Challenging as that may be, the advances in narrow AI are quickly adding up, with a bottom-up approach, to an impressive array of well-defined and compartmentalized human abilities. While AGI is the holy grail, the key point is that such pursuits are enabling scientific and technological advances that are the sweet spot of enabling human-in-the-loop technologies that augment humans instead of replacing them. Progress will likely stay in the augmentation zone for the next couple of decades, as Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of AGI comes true by 2045. Others argue that humans may not accomplish AGI in this century at all. But there is little disagreement over the fact that AI is likely to create US$15 trillion of economic value by 2030, with US$6 trillion being attributed to deeplearning alone. Individuals, societies, and businesses have to brace for that impact.
How Can Businesses Prepare and Respond to General AI
China is leading the AI frontier, as much as due to its lack of regulatory and ethical oversight as to its dogged commitment to winning the AI supremacy race. The US is not far behind whereas other nations occupy different positions on the leaderboard. Expertise in AI is likely to shake up the global economic and geopolitical order in the future world. While individuals grapple with the widespread displacement of world labor markets, enterprises need to sense and respond as well to ensure they thrive in a world replete with AI.
Here are some steps they can take to ensure they are not sidelined in a world of sustained disruption and mere transient advantages:
#1 Create a vision of yourself in the future world of AGI. Make small bets to preserve strategic options in aspects of your business potentially exposed to general AI.
#2 Make big, bold moves on narrow AI for quick wins. This will instill confidence and purpose to respond to general AI as it comes of age. Embrace AI augmentation as opposed to resisting it.
#3 Put your digital maturity on the front burner and prioritize digital transformation initiatives. Be a digital leader, not a laggard.
#4 Data maturity is a precursor to digital maturity. Invest in advantaged data with internal data or external data from partnerships, acquisitions, or ecosystem orchestration. AI is contingent upon data and algorithmic advances.
#5 Democratize technology by expanding it beyond the traditional IT organization of the company.
#6 Embrace a digital culture with rapid test-and-learn abilities. Don’t ostracize failure as long as you pivot fast and fail cheaply.
#7 Institutionalize innovation incubation. Also, explore open innovation models by partnering with other businesses and institutions.
#8 Orchestrate between exploitation and exploration strategies – the former for the here and now and the latter for the future.
#9 Deploy a forward-thinking governance framework that can orchestrate across near, mid-, and long-term growth.
#10 Deploy your workforce in fluid, agile, self-organizing teams that can ‘flow to the work’.
Article | December 11, 2020
Certain programming skills are always in demand—even among cybercriminals. Recently, an underground Russian forum known as XXS held a competition that sought to give away $15,000 in cash prizes to cybercriminal developers who could write an article or develop a proof-of-concept video on different topics, including searching for zero-day and one-day vulnerabilities and exploiting them, developing crypto algorithms, and how best to conduct an advanced persistent threat attack, according to an analysis conducted by security firm Digital Shadows.
Article | December 11, 2020
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, all contact centres have rushed to ensure the safety of their employees and find ways to move their agents to work from home. However, according to a recent Contact Babel Report, before the pandemic struck only 4% of UK contact centres were working remotely on a permanent basis. The ‘new normal’ still feels far from normal and contact centres now need to look at building a solid foundation for a work-from-home model, one which addresses technology needs and environment specifics like security and reliability. Small businesses are now looking to best practice guides to have agents up and running in a work at home environment, as well as build agility and scale.
Article | December 11, 2020
Technology has penetrated businesses through every nook and corner. It would not be wrong to say that businesses that do not implement technology will see a dead end sooner or later. Technology is drastically changing business. The direction in which it has revolutionized businesses is impeccable.
The impact of technology on business varies widely. For example, a local grocery store need not know about AI or its implementations. Instead, he needs essential technology tools like online payment, placing online orders, delivery tracking, and inventory list. Thus the technology needs vary from business to business.
There is digitalization in every aspect of the business. For example, if you have replaced calculators with excel sheets, that is digitalization. Thus be it big, medium, or large scale businesses, technology has impacted everyone.
Let us dive into the depths of how technology is changing business and evolving with it.
Ways in Which Technology Is Changing Business
Automation plays a significant role in managing businesses. From basic processing to workflow tasks, automation manages everything. This has reduced manual labor and increased error-free processes.
Automation software is implemented in almost every sector. It performs the tasks diligently and works round the clock. This software is a proven methodology to save time and money while improving the client experience. As a result, your business works seamlessly even in your absence. And you have an entire report at the tip of your fingertips.
Automation has increased productivity and helped humans to reduce unnecessary tasks. This, in turn, helps businesses to utilize their workforce in the right place.
Improved Communication Process
Communication processes between clients, employees, and departments have been seamless despite the world working remotely in the pandemic. The organizations that were reluctant to remote working have easily made the transition. And all this is made possible through internet communication.
The communication technology for video calls, voice calls, text, meetings, etc., keeps global communication ongoing. As a result, businesses can communicate with their employees or other businesses anywhere and anytime.
The integrated software for communication has made hybrid meetings possible. Despite being in different geographical locations, technology enables all teammates to be present in one board room during a meeting.
The pandemic is a catalyst in promoting hybrid working. If it had not been for the pandemic, the transition to remote working would have taken many more years. But this transition was smoothened by technology.
The innovations and implementations of technology have made hybrid working a success. Employers can give the option to the employees to work in the surroundings of their convenience. This has helped organizations to grow globally.
With the right technology and infrastructure, businesses have cut down costs in remote working. These resources are utilized in expanding the company and increasing ROI. In addition, technology has proved that hybrid working helps in making the business more agile and scalable.
Technology is changing business through digital transformations. As a result, this is used to expedite processes, increase productivity, and enrich user experience.
In 2019, US$1.3 trillion was spent by companies on digital transformation. And a significant percentage of these organizations were immensely successful.
Integrating digital technology in the crucial aspect of the business saves a lot of time, money, and workforce. The ROI is excellent. A business that embraces digital transformation proves that it is open to change and innovations. With the update in technology, the digitally transformed business will have to make minimum changes with time to stay ahead in the race.
Incredible Customer service
Technology has genuinely proved that ‘customer is the king.’ Most of the focus of innovation and technology is on customer experience. Customer experience is enhanced by targeting their behavior and providing them with the same service that they are looking for.
Technology is changing business by providing personalized customer service. The company may provide the same service to many people, but every individual will feel special.
Customers can approach the service center 24 hours and have various modes of contact. Incredible customer service ensures an increase in brand value.
Artificial Intelligence has emerged with a bang. It has changed the business scenario forever. From drones managing traffic and deliveries to robots giving the best user experience, AI has transformed businesses for good.
AI uses predictive technology to study a buyer’s journey and then personalizes their experience. They study the user’s behavior through various algorithms to provide a personalized approach.
AI has introduced many opportunities and advantages for businesses to explore. Along with AI, VR, MR, and AR are there, which are combined to enhance a buyer’s journey.
Robotic technology is playing a significant role in the health industry, wherein error has no place. But, of course, it won’t replace human doctors but will eliminate human errors by scheduling tasks, providing information, and taking care of patients whenever required!
Security is challenged with the evolution in technology. Moreover, hackers are trying to come up with new ideas to break the security systems. Hence it is essential to have robust cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity demands have given rise to cybersecurity jobs. Every organization wants the best security to avoid breaches of data. Thus, Big Data, cloud technologies, and blockchain technology are the new names in good storage of data with ultimate security.
Mobile Friendly Business
More than 70% of users connect to businesses through mobile devices. Hence having a mobile-friendly business is the need of the hour. Moreover, cell phones have become an irreplaceable part of the human body. Thus, it will be best if you have your business functions be mobile-friendly to attract customers.
The paradigm shift of desktops to mobile technology was a game-changer for businesses. Customers browse on mobiles anytime and anywhere. This increases the scope of businesses beyond geographies and time zones. In addition, developing apps and target advertising has helped businesses to spend less time analyzing and more time enriching customer experience.
Benefits of Implementing Technology in Businesses
Technology is changing business by expanding room for improvisations and innovations. As a result, businesses can streamline processes, develop competitive advantage, and plan prospects effectively.
Here are some of the benefits of implementing the right technology in businesses.
Innovation and growth
The alignment of services in a business has made innovation and growth an easy thing. Business, technology, innovations go hand in hand. Technology is changing business and has made managing things an effortless task.
Incorporating the right tools ensures that maximum time is spent in innovation rather than doing laborious tasks. Technology is changing business by managing tasks in a zero error way to deliver maximum results.
Reduced human effort
Technology is changing business has provided valuable tools to reduce human effort. For example, employees can concentrate on the job that they are hired for, rather than updating or managing stuff. In addition, computing and technology ensure goal-oriented activities.
For example, when software manages the salaries and attendance, the HR department can concentrate on improvising the ways of the organization and building a better culture.
Best productivity at lower costs
Technology is changing business by delivering incredible ROI. The investment in technology is much less compared to the results it delivers.
Reading about technology and implementing it in business are two different things. You know your business the best, so implement the technology that suits it. Do not integrate technologies just because they are trending.
Ensure that the technologies that you invest in guarantee the best returns.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does technological change affect business?
Technological change opens new doors of business opportunities. It brings in new ideas, services, products and eases out processes. As a result, it helps to reduce costs and increase productivity.
What are the negative effects of technology on business?
The biggest threat of advanced technology in business is security. The more data is exposed, the more vulnerable it gets. Also, the dependency on machines increases, and downtime disrupts major workflow processes. Glitches, power failures, virus attacks, bugs, etc., prove very expensive to the business.
What are the positive impacts of technology on business?
Technology has helped businesses to be customer-centric. The predictive technology makes it easy for a business to target an interested audience. This saves a lot of time and money. Also, technology increases productivity, makes regular processes error-free, assists employees in day-to-day activities, etc. Technology also helps businesses expand globally with minimum investments.
"name": "How does technological change affect business?",
"text": "Technological change opens new doors of business opportunities. It brings in new ideas, services, products and eases out processes. As a result, it helps to reduce costs and increase productivity."
"name": "What are the negative effects of technology on business?",
"text": "The biggest threat of advanced technology in business is security. The more data is exposed, the more vulnerable it gets. Also, the dependency on machines increases, and downtime disrupts major workflow processes. Glitches, power failures, virus attacks, bugs, etc., prove very expensive to the business."
"name": "What are the positive impacts of technology on business?",
"text": "Technology has helped businesses to be customer-centric. The predictive technology makes it easy for a business to target an interested audience. This saves a lot of time and money. Also, technology increases productivity, makes regular processes error-free, assists employees in day-to-day activities, etc. Technology also helps businesses expand globally with minimum investments."