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All Eyes on AI

July 23, 2017


AI has taken center stage among business and technology leaders. At several MIT IDE-hosted events and discussions recently, questions about the future of work in an age of increasingly intelligent machines, has dominated.

For example, executives and experts met for the annual MIT Platform Strategy Summit on July 14, and while the rapid advancement of digital platform markets was top-of-mind, so was the impact of AI and machine learning on platform design.

Additionally, IDE co-director Andrew McAfee, and director, Erik Brynjolfsson, discussed their new book, Machine, Platform, Crowd, at global forums in Europe and the U.S. They also spoke with Bloomberg and Yahoo! Finance about AI and about the new rules of supply and demand, and were at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Watch the video here.

And in their recent Harvard Business Review cover article, the Business of Artificial Intelligence, and this podcast, McAfee and Brynjolfsson focus their lens squarely on the reasons AI is so hotly debated. Here are some quotes from the article:

The most important general-purpose technology of our era is artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning (ML) — that is, the machine’s ability to keep improving its performance without humans having to explain exactly how to accomplish all the tasks it’s given. Within just the past few years machine learning has become far more effective and widely available. We can now build systems that learn how to perform tasks on their own.

Why is this such a big deal? Two reasons: First, we humans know more than we can tell: We can’t explain exactly how we’re able to do a lot of things…. Prior to ML, this inability to articulate our own knowledge meant that we couldn’t automate many tasks. Now we can.

Second, ML systems are often excellent learners. They can achieve superhuman performance in a wide range of activities, including detecting fraud and diagnosing disease. Excellent digital learners are being deployed across the economy, and their impact will be profound.

The effects of AI will be magnified in the coming decade, as manufacturing, retailing, transportation, finance, health care, law, advertising, insurance, entertainment, education, and virtually every other industry transform their core processes and business models to take advantage of machine learning. The bottleneck now is in management, implementation, and business imagination.

Read more in this article, What’s Driving the Machine Learning Explosion? And watch HBR’s live stream with the book authors to learn more.

You can also read about and watch a video of Tom Davenport’s keynote address at the recent MIT CIO Symposium where he offers Three ways businesses use artificial intelligence.