Article by: Brian Chappell, Senior Director, Enterprise and Solution Architecture at BeyondTrust
AI offers many opportunities to enhance productivity and accelerate activities by augmenting human capabilities. While there are predictions that AI will step into many roles in the workplace, it’s unlikely we are going to see widespread adoption in any of those that rely on human interaction until AI proves itself reliable. Where AI is going to impact in the coming 12 months is more targeted around functions such as profiling and analysis. In this arena, the huge volume of related data available on the Internet provides a hitherto inaccessible mechanism for training AIs. This allows the AI to quickly build patterns of common attributes and traits, enabling it to quickly identify matching attributes and traits in new data sets. Of course, once you can identify the matches, it’s just as easy to note the differences too. We are seeing this approach making in-roads in marketing, something that will grow and is likely to be many people’s first encounter with corporate AI tools. Using the AI to help target markets for new products, to tailor advertising to specific groups or individuals and extrapolating outcomes will enable more efficient and effective use of money and resources.
Behavioural analysis will undoubtedly feature in this kind of activity to build models of how people respond to the outcomes of the profiling. This kind of AI technology will have broad applications and we’ve already seen this in the IT security space where tools are monitoring user and system activity to help identify aberrant behaviour. While not all of the tools in this space would count as true AI, the outcome is similar. I also suspect that much of what will be touted as AI this coming year will be stretching the boundaries of the term. There’s undoubtedly an AI marketing tool running somewhere right now that’s highlighting ‘AI’ as a great term to include in product information.
We need to approach AI with a new context. We aren’t on the brink of Skynet deciding we are the problem and trying to wipe us out and we also aren’t on the brink of AI replacing everyone in their roles. Where AI is making positive contribution is in the area of supporting services. Being able to assist in menial tasks like managing resource allocations, adapting to shifting availability of staff and skills and most obviously, with digital assistants. Many of us now have at least one digital assistant in our lives, even if it’s just helping us play music or tell us groan-worthy jokes. These tools are increasingly providing subtle input into our lives that just helps ease the burden, for example, alerting us that due to emerging traffic patterns, we should probably leave for work now rather than our normal time.
These kinds of tools are likely, as privacy concerns are addressed in the coming years, to be seen more and more in the workplace. Hopefully lifting the drudge of calendar juggling-type tasks and enabling to get on with being positively productive, simply because our focus isn’t being diverted to the mundane. We can’t move forward being afraid of AI, we also shouldn’t go completely blindly into a world of intelligent, automated profiling. GDPR will help us ensure that when AI processing, or any automated processing of our personal data is going on, that we can have clear visibility and the right for our data to be assessed outside of that process.