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The Intelligent Future: AI & Business Today and Tomorrow
It was a pleasure to have Mr. Antti Merilehto as a keynote speaker at the ID BBN Power Lunch on Tuesday the 9th of October.
Mr. Merilehto´s journey to artificial intelligence and machine learning started when people at Slush asked him to moderate a discussion about AI. Since Merilehto is neither developer nor statistician he studied the topic from a business perspective and ended up writing a book about AI for business executives. The Finnish version, Tekoäly – Matkaopas johtajille, has quickly become a bestseller and the English version will be out in February 2019.
The Speaker of the year guided us to the topic: The Intelligent Future: AI & Business Today and Tomorrow via Matrix, Humty Dumpty, Coca Cola freestyle machines, Boston and other interesting anecdotes.
– It is said that the thing what sets us apart as humans is the ability to tell stories, Mr. Merilehto said.
And he sure knows how to tell them.
Mr. Merilehto told the ID BBN Power Lunch audience that the most common questions people ask him are: “How do I get started with artificial intelligence?" or "What can I do with AI in my own product or company?"
To help people out, he wrote the book of course, but on top of that he likes to make lists of timely sources.
– There are dozens of excellent tutorials available on the web and I like to make lists of the ones that help people like me, who are not data-scientists nor developers, to survey the landscape broadly. I want to give people a sense of what is possible – and help them think about how they might use artificial intelligence techniques to make their business and lives better.
A drop in the cost of prediction
One of the key messages Mr. Merilehto delivered at the Power Lunch was that AI will make quite a few things cheap and thereby ubiquitous. He reminded us that AI is very useful in:
- Enabling things that move to drive or fly or sail themselves
- Understanding people and objects and their relationships in the real world
- Optimizing complex systems, such as driving patterns or electricity consumption in data centers
- Creating content, such as newspaper articles, tweets, music, websites, movie trailers, and eventually entire movies
- Understanding people, helping people understand software, and helping people understand each other
Mr. Merilehto values highly professor Avi Goldfarb, who is the Rotman Chair in Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare and a professor of marketing at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
– In fact, I think the best definition for AI that I have ever heard is from him, Mr. Merilehto admits.
Professor Goldfarb has underlined, that recent advances in AI are best thought of as a drop in the cost of prediction. And by prediction, he doesn´t just mean the future – prediction is about using data that you have to generate data that you don’t have, often by translating large amounts of data into small, manageable amounts.
– And the economic theory tells us that as the cost of machine prediction falls, machines will do more and more prediction. Prediction is useful because it helps improve decisions. But it isn’t the only input into decision-making; the other key input is judgment.
AI and its impact on human work
People do wonder, if they will lose their jobs thanks to AI. For example, Wall Street is entering a new era. Traders are already giving way to algorithms, and soon, artificial intelligence. Firms are rolling out machine-learning software to suggest bets, set prices and craft hedges.
The tools will relieve staff of routine tasks and offer an edge to those who stay. But one day, machines may not need much help. And 100 000 financial workers aren’t needed to keep money flowing.
With the recent explosion in AI, there has been the understandable concern about its potential impact on human work. Plenty of people have tried to predict which industries and jobs will be most affected, and which skills will be most in demand. Should you learn to code? Or will AI replace coders too?
Rather than trying to predict specifics, Mr. Merilehto suggest an alternative approach.
– Economic theory suggests that AI will substantially raise the value of human judgment. People who display good judgment will become more valuable, not less.
One of the most interesting topics of Mr. Merilehto´s presentation was the ancient Chinese game of Go which has long been considered a grand challenge for AI.Go is a complex game of strategy and intuition which many believed could never be cracked by a machine. But contrary to the presumptions, on March 9th, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The DeepMind Challenge Match.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master Lee Sedol took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history. As a result, Google DeepMind amazed the world when its AI programme AlphaGo beat world champion Sedol. You can see the movie trailer AlphaGo here.
AlphaGo was effective because it learned from 30 million game plays. It had been programmed with millions of moves of past masters, and could predict its own chances of winning, adjusting its game-plan accordingly.
This happened only two and half years ago.
Now the same Google DeepMind -team has created a machine that learns from scratch: AlphaGo Zero.
In just three days it had defeated all versions of AlphaGo, the original Go-Champion, and within 40 days it had independently found game principles that had taken humans thousands of years to discover.
AlphaGo Zero was taught how to play Go without any additional instructions. Instead it learned the best moves over time, simply by playing millions of games against itself!
Predictive will rule marketing
The second keynote speaker of the day was ID BBN´s AI expert, Mr. Matti Airas. Mr. Airas is a consultant in predictive data-driven marketing and customer experience. His passion is figuring out how to use data to solve business problems.
Please check out his brilliant blogposts:
And here in Finnish:
Did you miss something? Don´t worry – you can watch the whole set later
You can watch the whole Power Lunch session on ID BBN YouTube-channel:
You can watch Matti´s Power Lunch presentation on Predictive Marketing here, starting 01:24:50.