In 2016, Deep-Mind software AlphaGo won the first game of Go against the world’s best player at the time, Lee Sedol. What? Computers are getting intelligent! Twenty years earlier, Deep Blue won a chess game against Garry Kasparov. Sensational! Software is now unbeatable! The truth is that nowadays software can make intelligent decisions and is capable of learning when it’s supported by exponentially growing volumes of data, huge computing capacity and broadband networks. Artificial intelligence in business can support customer alignment, strategic planning and process optimization. What it cannot do today is replace human intelligence and relieve management of high-level decisions!

AI – What is it anyway?

Wikipedia says that Intelligence literally means “to read between the lines” or “to choose, to decide”, but there is no universal definition of intelligence. So when we speak of “artificial” intelligence”, we are describing something pretty vague – somewhat unusual in the software business!

But there is no doubt that nowadays machines can learn, acquire new knowledge, evaluate their own decisions, and recognize shapes and languages – a long way from stubborn algorithms and hard-wired command lines. The most important step towards (artificially) intelligent behavior is the independent acquisition of new knowledge. The AlphaGo software mentioned at the beginning of this article, was the only software that, at that time “understood” the rules of the game. And after many thousands of games that the software played, it perfectly mastered the game.

From academic island to everyday companion

For a long time, artificial intelligence (AI) was the subject of academic and theoretical reflection. This has changed dramatically in recent years. Whether it be autonomous driving, intelligent speakers or chat bots, AI has long since invaded our everyday world, in both our private and business lives. There is now a great deal of interest in artificial intelligence in companies with regard to process and workflow automation and in many companies, the use of AI technology is already a reality.

Of the countless AI-supported application scenarios, there is a whole array that is particularly interesting to the media and publishing sector. These include circulation calculation, inquiry and complaint management, content creation and editing, optimized advertising campaigns, and personalized addressing, to name just a few.

What makes the difference from previous solutions is the software’s ability to learn, which is based on constant evaluation of the results. To put it simply: AI-supported applications become better with each completed task and react “freely” to increasing complexity.

This also makes it possible to integrate unforeseen events into a workflow without the AI module needing to be adapted again and again by the development team.

Skepticism and fears – AI myth

The amazing opportunities offered by today’s technology do not always meet with positive reactions however. For many, AI appears to be a kind of “black box” that makes isolated decisions, whose conclusions cannot be traced, and with which one must just suffer the consequences. Artificial intelligence also generates human fears of “being replaced”, of the machine that takes over. These negative reactions are often the result of the myths that often accompany the whole AI story.

We are still a long way from the development of machines that even begin to approximate the performance of the human brain. Today, AI can cleverly solve limited tasks and thus become a valuable aid in the complex overall landscape of a company, for example. For a very long time to come, human thinking will be the only way to recognize the overriding interrelationships that govern our lives, and to make decisions based on them.

Artificial intelligence as a supporting tool

Nobody will leave the digital transformation of the enterprise to artificial intelligence. But it can carry out stand-alone analyses, solve repetitive tasks very well and so contribute to an advanced process.

Creativity, intuition and human interaction will become MORE important in combination with AI-supported technology, not less important!

If we can meet the opportunities of today’s technology fearlessly and positively and leave artificial intelligence to evaluate the data and the humdrum, we will create freedom for people to develop new ideas and a deeper understanding of more meaningful processes.

Then you can let the computer play a round of Go.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash