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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming the face of brands, Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Accenture, recently said.

“AI is the most important technology trend today. It is not a right, but a human obligation. AI should be leveraged to create opportunities for organizations as well as society," highlighted Daugherty, while speaking at an interactive session in Mumbai.

The event also saw the technology leader discussing the book titled ‘Human+Machine —Reimagining work in the age of AI’ – which he co-authored along with H. James Wilson,Managing Director of Information Technology and Business Research, Accenture – which reveals how companies can use AI to leap ahead on innovation and profitability.

As defined by the authors, AI includes “systems that extend human capability by sensing, comprehending, acting, and learning". Speaking at the session, Daugherty said AI has made way for the third wave of business transformation—a phase where humans and machines collaborate to ease and increase the pace of operations. In such a workplace, humans and machines aren’t adversaries, but help augment each other’s abilities. For instance, while humans train and manage AI applications, machines help humans in processing large amounts of data that the latter would otherwise find impossible to do.

“In our research, we found that companies that use AI to augment their human talent while reimagining their business processes achieve step gains in performance, propelling themselves to the forefront of their industries," reads an extract from the book.

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Daugherty has termed this as the ‘missing middle’— ‘missing’ because almost no one talks about it, and very few companies are currently working towards it.

“It is believed that machines will take over our jobs. However, this is not true. Yes, jobs will be displaced because of AI, but many more will be created," he said at the event.

Daugherty quoted a report by the World Economic Forum in this regard, which states that although machines and algorithms at the workplace are likely to displace 75 million jobs by 2022, they will generate 133 million new roles within the same time frame.

While outlining how companies are preparing for AI, he said they are doing so by adopting five crucial principles of organizational mindset, experimentation, leadership, data, and skills(MELDS). According to Daugherty, around 8% of the 1,500 organizations surveyed during the process of writing the book—and which have implemented MELDS—are already reaping the benefits of AI.

While mindset is about reimagining work around the ‘missing middle’, experimentation is about finding out the correct division of labour between humans and machines. Leadership, Daugherty said, is about organizations assessing the ethical, moral, and legal implications of AI, as well ashelping employees become more comfortable with their AI co-workers.

An enterprise is also dependent on data to be AI driven. “In fact, data is the most common stumbling block when it comes to implementing AI systems," Daugherty emphasized. This is largely because of ‘dirty data’, or data that is unorganized or inaccurate. Therefore, companiesmust build an effective data supply chain to utilize the power of AI.

“Privacy of data is another important issue. Most people just want to exploit data; this can lead to an erosion of trust in AI systems among customers," Daugherty pointed out.

The last concept, which is skilling, revolves around training employees so that they can seamlessly work with new-age machines.

“For any organization, the investment in AI should be about investing in people," he said, while urging CXOs to continually establish learning platforms and upskill employees in AI. The event ended with Daugherty engaging in a conversation about AI with Leslie D’Monte,National Technology Editor, Mint. They discussed what different countries are doing in this space, the need for specialized jobs in AI, and how the technology is enabling ‘phygital’—or a combination of physical and digital—experiences today.

To know more about ‘Human + Machine’, please visit here .

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