bigdog News

AI – threat or opportunity?

September 2018

Written by Dan Marsh, Digital Director

Watching a demo recently of a nice tool which uses machine learning to evaluate web designs, I was struck by a realisation… what I was being shown was, in effect, a machine doing much of my job!

The rise of AI and the risks it poses to many occupations has been a hot topic for some time. The American trucking industry has long been threatened by driverless trucks and recently the Bank of England Chief Economist issued a warning that the UK is in need of a skills revolution as more and more jobs come under threat.

But despite being aware of this, it was the first time I’ve experienced it for real. I’ll admit, it was unsettling; but after a few deep breathes and a larger than normal swig of mid-morning coffee, I concluded this wasn’t a threat to be feared but an opportunity to be embraced.

The key is in accepting the revolution and adapting accordingly by seeing the technology as a complement to your core role, and finding ways to use it to your advantage.

At bigdog, we are currently developing chatbots for clients that can respond to customer FAQ’s with pre-defined answers. The benefit is taking the menial tasks away from the customer service team which requires repeating the same information numerous times – leaving them more time to deal with more specific customer problems or issues they can be of genuine value.

First Direct are an excellent example of a company who, even with all the modern technology available, consistently win plaudits (and customers) by delivering service fundamentals like a real person to speak to when you want. That’s not to say they’ve resisted online or app-based banking – just stayed rooted in this simple principle that not everyone wants to ‘press 1 for blah; press 2 for bluh’. 

Then there’s the stark reminder of the dangerous lesson’s humans will have to learn as AI continues to develop into the mainstream. The tragic death of a pedestrian to an Uber car in autonomous mode earlier this year was seen by many as the very worst outcome posed by putting too much faith in an algorithm’s ability to react to unpredictable real world situations. In that regard, machines are perhaps no better or worse at avoiding such terrible outcomes.   

 Historically, with technological advancement, the case is surely when and not if the AI revolution starts to affect whole industries. Is accepting and adapting how you and your business work not a more constructive approach than resisting and hoping for the best?

My experience certainly says so – because, let’s face it, who has the time to worry about machine’s taking over the world when it can be put to such constructive use as this:

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