Chapter 1. Introduction: A Simple Vision for Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is when a machine performs a task that human beings find interesting, useful, and difficult to do. The current wave of AI works by using computer models to simulate intelligent behavior. AI can drive economic growth by automating the workforce, improving efficiency, and becoming a source of product or service innovation.

The potential of AI varies by country depending on factors like the flow of information, communication infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, and public and private investment in the digital economy. The potential of AI varies by industry, depending on factors like the adoption rate of AI and the industry’s investment in AI. Overall, however, AI has the potential to increase economic growth rates and boost profitability for much of the world’s economy.

Every business needs an AI strategy to adapt and stay competitive. Getting access to AI technology is relatively straightforward. The difficult part is applying the technology to a specific business context. In this report, we introduce you to the simplest way to actively engage in applying AI. We help you put your organization on the path to a viable, effective use of AI. It covers ways to do the following:

  • Determine where AI is useful in your organization

  • Collect the data needed for AI

  • Choose an AI strategy that produces useful results

  • Scale up to make AI available wherever it is useful

  • Check for bias and other ethical concerns

What Is AI?: A Working Definition of AI and Examples

Unfortunately, I have not found a universally accepted definition of AI. The best definition I can come up with does not get tangled in technical detail or make expansive promises, but lets us assess the role of AI in our organizations:

AI is any program that does something that we would think of as intelligent in humans.

This definition is good enough to recognize when something is in the neighborhood of what most would consider as AI (even if we can’t agree on an exact definition). But, more important, it’s good enough to begin applying intelligent technology to the task of improving the businesses. Figure 1-1 shows the basic elements of AI and how concepts like AI, machine learning, and analytics all are connected.

Your AI potential is the difference between how smart your business is now and how smart it could be with properly applied intelligent technology. The simplest way to find your AI potential is to identify intelligence gaps in the business, build a portfolio of AI data stories to fill those gaps, and identify specific business value targets for each story.

Figure 1-1. The role of AI and the relationships between terms like AI, machine learning, and analytics

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