Welcome to the first in a series of Artificial Intelligence (AI) themed articles written by our CTO, Richard Griffith. In this and each of his upcoming articles, Richard aims to demystify AI and explain why the AI revolution matters in our world today and in the future.
In this first blog (Chapter 1), Richard explains how Data is the unseen and often overlooked essential foundation to AI’s intelligence.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the public consciousness for a number of years, indeed it has already been deployed, mostly invisibly, for all sorts of use cases. If you’ve ever shopped online, talked to a customer service chatbot or listened to a playlist recommendation on a streaming platform, you’ve already been exposed to the early incarnations of this technology. But 2024 promises to be different: this year the power of AI will be unleashed at scale across global business. It will change the way many of us work.
The generation of AI assistants that are coming to the market will allow workers and business owners to fundamentally change how we interact with digital data. The technology enables machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence: such as understanding language, recognizing images, making decisions and learning from data. Common tasks such as searching through reports and spreadsheets to find bits of information will become obsolete: the answers powered by AI will be well researched and instantaneous, creating data citizens in everyone overnight.
More than just finding bits of information, the new generation of AI assistants can join and infer from disparate data sets, including reports, spreadsheets and presentations to give the user a decision or suggested course of action. And the power is extraordinary: AI assistants can scan, understand, summarise, report and produce outputs in seconds; tasks which would take even the most able human many hours to complete. And don’t believe the scare stories, this technology is here to assist us, not wipe us out. Applied correctly, AI has the potential to improve many aspects of our lives, from healthcare to education, from entertainment to transportation
How will AI change how we work?
No matter what line of work you are in, the new AI tools have the potential to revolutionise your day-to-day activities: how you get the information to make decisions, how you focus on what matters and how you prioritise. Fundamentally giving you back more time to be productive.
Reading long email chains? Been in a meeting and missed a whole thread of messages and need to catchup fast? Been offline and missed a bunch of meetings? Not used Excel for a while and forgotten where the formatting button is? Missed the start of a meeting and need to catchup? Been asked for a presentation on that long document you just finished writing? Need to get an invoice out to a customer but don’t know where to start? Need to fact check what the salesperson just told you?
All of these problems can be instantly solved with the correct application of AI assistants.
At Envitia, we have adopted some of these tools already, with incredible results. Our technical teams use Microsoft Co-pilot to summarise long, technical reports. We can produce summary slide decks in 2 minutes that would have previously taken 2 days. The time saved allows our experts to focus on customer value, rather than copy and paste.
Monthly Reporting and KPIs that were previously created from large and complex spreadsheets have been replaced with trend summaries and automatic alerts which our AI tool creates when it senses a change in performance. This not only saves labour in creating reporting, it allows our leaders to react to changing conditions immediately.
Why Data is critical to success
Whilst the new technology is talked about and promoted widely, what is often underplayed is that data is the oxygen to AI’s fire. It’s the fuel that powers its learning, shapes its decisions, and ultimately determines its success.
In the world of AI, data reigns supreme:
1. Knowledge is power: AI algorithms learn by identifying patterns and relationships within data. The more data they have, the more nuanced and accurate their understanding becomes. Imagine training a translator with only a handful of sentences; its translations would be riddled with errors. Now, feed it millions of documents and conversations and it becomes a linguistic maestro.
2. Accuracy matters: Bias creeps in when AI models are trained on limited or skewed data. Imagine training a self-driving car only on sunny highways; it would struggle in rain or snow. Diverse, high-quality data ensures AI systems function reliably and fairly in real-world scenarios.
3. Evolution never stops: Just like humans learn and adapt through experience, AI continuously evolves by ingesting new data. This allows AI systems to stay relevant and effective, tackling ever-changing challenges and improving their results over time. Imagine a medical diagnosis AI constantly learning from real-time patient data; it becomes increasingly adept at detecting and treating new diseases.
Data is the foundation of AI’s intelligence. Without it, AI remains a dim flicker (remember Clippy anyone?), unable to reach its full potential. So, the next time you hear about AI advancements, remember, it’s all powered by the invisible, yet critical, force of data.
So you have read all this and it sounds good? In our next chapter we will go into how to get started in practical steps. Can’t wait? Reach out to me directly and let’s have a conversation.