Technicians or Robots? How to Invest Your IT Spend in 2018 (Part 1: What Is AI and Why Can’t You Buy It?)

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Technicians or Robots? How to Invest Your IT Spend in 2018 (Part 1: What Is AI and Why Can’t You Buy It?)

These days, it seems like all the products on the market advertise their capabilities as “artificial intelligence” (AI), and the newspapers keep claiming that robotic automation in the workplace is on the rise. With so many options newly available, it can quickly become confusing and overwhelming to choose the right technological path forward – and yet, you know that making the right choice matters more than ever before. Your ongoing agility will determine your survival in this disruptive business environment.

That’s why, today, ISG is starting a short series to help you make the right decision about how you should plan to allocate your company’s IT spend in 2018.

If you’ve wondered whether you should focus your investment on increasing workplace automation through robots and AI, or if it’s a better idea to hire skilled IT technicians to make your organization more efficient, you’ll get the answers you need here.

Note: In this series, we interchangeably use the terms “machine,” “computer,” “AI” and “robot.” For our purposes right now, please note that they all refer to the same thing: the advanced technology your business can use.

What Is AI?

AI, or artificial intelligence, is the building block required for effective robot workers and our modern tech marvels. But what is it and why does it matter? And are all those products out there that claim to be AI really AI? Let’s start our discussion of where you should allocate your IT funds by defining the exact tools you’d actually be spending your money on.

For the purpose of this series, let’s go back to the very beginning of AI. It all started with the comments of a bright, young computer scientist way back in 1955. That computer scientist’s name was John McCarthy.

John McCarthy was an accomplished and forward-thinking computer scientist who is recognized as the founding father of AI. In addition to coming up with the rules for AI, he also spearheaded early logical programming for computers and also invented the prototype of what we now know as the cloud. Yes, he deserves applause for all this.

McCarthy coined the term artificial intelligence to describe robots or computers that can literally think for themselves, the way that humans do. In his definition of AI, now known as “artificial general intelligence,” these artificially intelligent computers would have the same cognition capabilities that we do, but they’d be made of wires and electricity and other “artificial”(read: non-organic) materials.

Movies like The Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey may have normalized the idea of fully reasoning machines, but this is still pure science fiction, folks. Futurists, the scientists who make studying the future their life’s work, call this concept of thinking machines “the Singularity,” and most are convinced it won’t happen during this century.

Of course, scientists have also proven that we humans are pretty bad at predicting future events we don’t like, so we may be underestimating the power of our future computers intentionally… but that’s a topic for another series. We’ve got enough to talk about here without bringing human fallacy into the discussion.

As John McCarthy defined it, true artificial intelligence requires seven things:

  1. Simulating higher functions of the human brain
  2. Natural language usage
  3. Arranging hypothetical neurons to form concepts
  4. Understanding, measuring and communicating complexity
  5. Self-improvement
  6. Abstraction for understanding ideas, as opposed to events
  7. Randomness and creativity

Today’s somewhat-intelligent computers and robots will have the ability to perform 1-3 of these actions predictably, but they’re unlikely to ever apply creative solutions to complex problems. Creativity is the domain of humans, and humans only.

But What About All that Intelligent Software on the Market? What’s That?

These statements aren’t meant to discount the fact that today’s business software is more intelligent than ever before. Although the software you can buy for your company isn’t fully intelligent in the way that John McCarthy imagined artificial intelligence over 60 years ago, the most affordable modern tech solutions are still leaps and bounds ahead of even the most expensive software you could buy three years ago. And the technology is much more capable too.

We’re a tech recruitment company, so we’re very, very specific about the definitions and terms we use. Though there are literally no modern business solutions that can boast true artificial intelligence, there is still intelligent software that can help your company gain the competitive edge.

Some of the tools and solutions out there help you crunch numbers faster so you can make decisions with more confidence. Some programs provide beautiful, clear visualizations that deliver a massive amount of information at a single glance. Some programs identify anomalies or subtly increasing trends, which can help you pivot exactly when you need to.

The fact is that machines are better at recognizing patterns than we are… but it’s up to us humans to determine how we should react to those patterns. And since our decisions need to be made faster than ever, today’s smartest business leaders are optimizing their high-tech analytics software so they can get relevant information, at a glance, any time of the day or night.

That’s where we come in.

Supercharge Your Human Intelligence

Remember, machines aren’t as intelligent as humans. At this point, if you’re wanting to set up new technology in your business, wanting to train or customize your tech or if you just need a smart development team to make your new tech vision a reality, find out how ISG can help.

ISG connects you with the top experts in the tech fields you need, with guaranteed knowledge, skills and performance records so you can be sure your tech will stay on track. Get creative solutions, applied intelligently, for the AI or other technological advances this year at your company with on-shore and off-shore teams managed for you, or in-house contract tech experts who come right to your door and fit right in with your company.

Contact ISG online or at (800) 739-2400 to get the perfect match for your upcoming projects, effortlessly.

Coming Up Next:

Though computers can’t think yet, they can learn. Machine learning solutions may be a massive benefit to your company – this year, and even more in the years to come. In Part 2 of this series coming next, you’ll find out more about the benefits and limitations of machine learning tools available on the market now.