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November 15 2018

PHD at Web Summit | How technology is extending reality’s boundaries


Accenture’s Marco Tempest has a long list of titles: Creative Technologist at NASA; Jet Propulsion Laboratory; a Director’s Fellow at the MIT MediaLab; Extended Reality Lead Consultant; and finally, magician – an easy connection to see following his presentation at Web Summit.

Tempest took to the stage with eight quadcopters. Using only words and gestures, he was able to create the illusion that the autonomous drones were all under his control. But is it possible to create illusions in a world where technology makes anything possible? If you know how the trick is done, then there is no illusion.

Our imagination is more powerful and creative than our reasoning, which leads us to projecting personalities onto machines. We have invented quadcopters that can analyse the environment around them and react to human communications; we’ve developed advanced algorithms to allow them to be aware of each other and human interactions. In essence, we have mathematics that can be mistaken for intelligence and subsequently we assign the technology a personality. Anthropomorphism is the illusion created by technology – a machine that appears to be alive.

At this point Yves Bernaert, Senior Managing Director at Accenture, took over to explain that whilst technology is magical, we need to build a future based on the Intelligent Enterprise, a management approach which applies new technologies to improve business performance – no magic necessary.

Here are five trends in technology for Intelligent Enterprises:

  1. Citizen AI – Citizen AI is an AI that is responsible and will do everything it can to the benefit of business and society. Bernaert offered an example from the medical industry: In New York the AI was used to scan 700,000 patient files and automatically diagnosed 76 diseases. Just as we teach our kids what is wrong and right, we need to do the same for AI, including the most minute details. For example, when translating “she is a doctor” to another language and then back to English, the usual output is “he is a doctor”, and in contrast, “he is a babysitter” gets output to “she is a babysitter”. AI must be more responsible than this.
  2. Extended reality (XR) – This will be the end of distance between teams and the new way to interact with systems, so say goodbye to your keyboards. Major airlines are already using this to insert seats into planes, as the XR the system helps to ensure that it is being done correctly. Even processes like this can be improved by 500% and bring the error rates down to zero. This isn’t just about gaming anymore; it’s serious business!
  3. Data veracity – We’ve heard a lot about our need to collect structured and unstructured data. What’s more important is the veracity of the data; its quality. Having a massive amount of data isn’t good enough anymore, and instead the quality and correctness of the data will be the game changer. Oil companies, for example, make decisions on where to drill based on the data available. If the data is inaccurate and the location is therefore wrong, companies are losing out on time and money. When Elon Musk sends dragon capsules into the sky, there are six computers working in pairs with the sole purpose of making sure the data is correct. Accuracy is key.
  4. Frictionless business – When you are running a business you can no longer work in silos. The ecosystem of partners and suppliers needs to be integrated to work in our new world. Successful businesses will be those which are built to partner at scale. Core systems have to move to the cloud and micro-services need to be created in order to stay agile enough to connect to any partner. Companies like Nike and Amazon do this already in order to integrate onto platforms like Instagram. Major pharmaceuticals in the US created 200 connections to their online loyalty programs in just six months in order for the end-user to use them in whichever shop they are in. Micro-services that extend a company’s capabilities are no longer just about increased revenue – it’s now about survival.
  5. Internet of thinking – The creation of intelligent systems which can process and react to data in real-time – or the ‘internet of thinking’ – is a natural evolution in our increasingly instantaneous world. Computer systems will be able to process information without needing to connect to anything and then adjust as needed. One example is a device designed by healthcare company NeuroPace which helps prevent seizures with a sensor that can detect abnormalities within milliseconds and automatically deliver specific pulses to attempt to stop the seizure. There is no alert or human involvement – the system makes the decision on its own. The idea of the internet of thinking will and should push your business creativity to the edge.

What can you do today to embrace these technologies and become intelligent enterprises? How can you transform visions into reality and turn the magic of technology into a reality?

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