Paul Daugherty

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

Paul Daugherty has spent thirty-plus years at Accenture and with co-author, H. James Wilson wrote Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. They emphasize similar ideas that Haskel and Westlake point out in Capitalism without Capital and Hal Varian addresses in his talk Bots vs Tots. Each author wants us to rethink how work is done and how work might be done with the rise of machines.

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Actually, that’s bad phrasing.

The conquering of machines!

Wrong direction.

Seth Godin lamented that we missed a great opportunity to brand global warming. ‘Global’ and ‘Warming’ are two mostly positive words. As Scott Adams suggests, wording matters. Godin thought global warming should be called ‘atmosphere cancer.’ It’s why Paul Daugherty has “started using the term ‘collaborative intelligence’ rather than ‘artificial intelligence’. The problem with AI is it scares the public and it leads to the wrong discussions.”

We’re having this discussion now even though ‘artificial intelligence’ has been around for more than sixty years because of three changes. There have been advances in computing, there is data from new sources and at scale, and algorithms have advanced, including progress with voice and speech.

Daugherty starts one talk by saying, “If you forget the rest of my talk here’s the real thing to take away; the plus sign on the cover of the book. If you remember nothing else about what I say, just remember the plus sign because it’s the fundamental basis for the research we’ve done.”

AI is already at work. Wal-Mart has used VR to simulate Black Friday Mobs. At Accenture, someone built a system to track resumes, experiences, and current jobs openings to suggest when and where someone should considering retraining and transferring before their job becomes obsolete. There are amazing possibilities but, “the problem a lot of business executives have is ‘What do you do with it all?'”

Daugherty showed this Dilbert Cartoon where The Boss asks, “But why can’t we 3D print a blockchain and HTML it into a Bitcoin.” Rather than nonsense, Daugherty suggests baby steps.

We need to change our thinking. Robots are coming for us but as assistants, not adversaries. Machines will not take our jobs. Work will remain. With a little work in the right direction will change for the better.

“AI gives people superpowers.” Both Mercedes and Tesla tried mostly automated factories and both blundered.

AI won’t be confined to the factory. It’ll be everywhere like electricity or wifi. It’ll be in brands. AI Personality Trainers are people who tune pop up chatbots in apps. “AI is your brand.” AI is also used to flag money laundering and in some cases moves from 70% false positives to 30%. Technology gives people superpowers.

“The skills we see increasing in importance in the human plus machine age are creativity, reasoning, and socio-emotional intelligence.”

The future is difficult to predict except to say that it’s going to be different. Tim Hartford talked about how we overlook the simple things and focus on the glamorous. It wasn’t just Gutenberg’s press in 1450 but paper too! Ditto for Bladerunner where the replicants look just like humans but the phones look just the phones.

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But not even baby steps happen without organizational support, support that starts at the top. “One thing we see is a senior leadership driven mindset around applying AI differently to the organization. It’s not just AI at the edges and at the small things but taking on something that matters to the organization and changing some of the behavior and culture in the organization.”

Daugherty adds that it should be a C-suite job or direct report. “You want somebody in your business understanding the context and application of AI and be accountable for it.”

In surveys of 1500 companies for the book, Daugherty found that only 1 in 10 companies were applying AI in reimagined ways. He and Wilson also found that “two-thirds of executives believe their workforce isn’t ready for AI.” But don’t go out and try to hire a machine learning specialist. “That’s what people often say, ‘I need more machine learning experts,’ or whatever the technology might be. That’s important but the bigger issue is the talent that uses AI. How do you change the culture and train the people that need to use AI for these different types of jobs?”

AI experts won’t be silver bullets. It’s your culture that matters most. Adaptability is what precedes survival. “One of the greatest examples of this is Amazon. If you look at their Go stores, they started small, tested on employees first, improvised and innovated with the technology, and now they’re scaling it. That’s a great example of behavior we see consistently with leading organizations.”

After listening to Daugherty I felt optimistic because he’s optimistic. “I strongly believe, that the more human-like technology is, the more it enhances our ability to be human.”

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