Robot in a manufacturing setting

AI Takes a Reality Check as Workplace Gears up for Cobots

Predictions for artificial intelligence in 2018 are as ambitious and expansive as they were last year, but with a key difference: the sums predicted to be invested may be as vast – or even bigger – but expectations are now rooted in reality. Rather than ‘A robot stole my job’ the headline is more likely to be, ‘Meet my new colleague, the cobot’.

Forrester predicts that 2018 will be the year in which blended AI gains momentum and my recent conversations with machine learning and AI experts support this view. We are far more likely to be augmented- than we are replaced by a software robot or an AI app. Robo services in financial services are a case in hand: pattern-finding bots and deep-learning tools will be the new technical support for customer-facing staff.

In 2018 humans must learn how to interact with bots in order that corporations can optimise the highly scalable and super-fast intelligence resources that are at their disposal. A sector role model for how we should treat autonomous systems – one that has used robots for decades – is the manufacturing industry.

Manufacturers are installing increasing numbers of intelligent robots on the factory floor and Ian Joesbury, director at Vendigital, anticipates a mixed workforce in the future. “Skilled technicians will work alongside a cobot that does the heavy lifting and does quality assurance.”

The point of handover between the human operator – whether in manufacturing or financial services – and the cobot is something that has to be learnt, however.  The crash of a Tesla driverless car last year shows that we have some way to go, although the consequence of a bad baton change will less likely be a fatality than a poor customer experience.

BVEx will take a look at the skills to be learnt in the coming year, the likely learning curve and look at use cases from. In the meantime I’ll leave you my favourite predictions for AI – and wish you a Happy New Year!

The handoff problem – the point at which the AI hands back to human control – may be the biggest problem of 2018/2019. (In reference to the self-driving car crash) the solution lies in a complex combination of UX and human monitoring AI.
Monty Barlow, director of machine learning, Cambridge Consultants:

Blended AI will gain momentum as contact center agent desktops fold in collaborative agent tagging capabilities to improve machine learning.

Bias check will become the next spell check In the short-term, we’ll see AI applied to hiring and promotion procedures to screen for conscious and unconscious bias..
By using emerging technologies to these ends, ‘bias check’ could one day become a routine sanitizer, like ‘spell check’- but with society-wide benefits
Brian Reaves, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Dell Technologies

Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.