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May 11, 2016

AI: From Friendly Toy to Passion and Purpose

Posted by Cristin Balog (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:44 AM

My son woke up this morning excited to wear his new tank top, but mindful that Bay Area weather is unpredictable.  "Siri - what will the temperature be today?" was his way to get the answer. Over breakfast, he interrupted the morning news playing to ask the Amazon Echo device to tell him a joke.  Outside, the family car had parked itself - a slightly unnerving exercise which involved my lifting my hands from the steering wheel, as the car expertly calculated curb and proximate car distances to a perfect parallel park.

These examples of artificial intelligence woven into the daily rhythm of middle class family life were, of course, unthinkable in my youth.  But it's fair to say that we didn't suffer from their absence.  It's fun, of course, but does anyone really need a self-parking car (much less an automated joke teller)?

Of course not.  But I do believe these everyday AI commonplaces are helping his generation to regard this technology as their omnipresent servant, rather than 2001's HAL, the rogue intelligent computer which terrified audiences in my childhood. What is now a kind of friendly toy will be at the ready to help my son and his peers achieve their passion and purpose in life.

Examples of more purposeful AI surround us already.  At Confluence, our recent client conference in San Francisco, we were mesmerized by Dr. Hugh Herr, who is creating bionic limbs in his work at the Herr Institute for Human Rehabilitation.  A double amputee due to a mountain climbing accident in his youth, Dr. Herr told us that he is a better climber now than he was before.  What an inspiring example of amplifying humanity through technology!

But you don't have to be a bionic engineer to get involved in next generation AI. At Confluence, we also saw examples of purposeful AI changing the enterprise.  Keeping up with constantly changing landscapes  -- that is, the thousands of corporate technology systems and integrations and the organizational knowledge that is locked up in the minds of thousands of corporate workers - is one of the biggest challenges for large organizations, we heard from Infosys CEO Dr. Vishal Sikka.

This is where a new Knowledge-based AI platform called Mana comes in.  With Mana, one Infosys client has seen its field engineers use the self-learning capabilities of their corporate systems to improve productivity by up to 50%. Another has helped sales managers improve their planning using Mana to detect, analyze and self-correct maintenance problems.  By offloading tedious, repetitive tasks, letting computers scan terabytes of data to uncover valuable patterns and allowing our systems to learn and self-correct - we can free up humans to achieve their passion and purpose, whether that is climbing a mountain or designing the next break-through corporate strategy.

If you are a part of the IT services field (or aspire to be), you already know that AI is the future for our industry.  Frances Karamouzis, VP and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner foresees, "Investments in artificial intelligence technologies and analytics coupled with services will be the most significant competitive differentiators in the industry... There are only a select few providers that are bringing all these to the market."

We believe Infosys is one of these, so if AI is part of your passion and purpose, we'd like to talk to you. But don't wait too long.  As another distinguished analyst, Nelson-Hall Executive Vice President Rachel Stormonth of Nelson-Hall, points out, when it comes to creating a next-generation services company, "Infosys is in a hurry."

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