Artificial intelligence: 2 things you must begin today, before your competition does

Artificial intelligence: 2 things you must begin today, before your competition does


By , CEO, | April 5, 2016 | Source: Linkedin 

It has been humorously stated that any discipline that ends with the word "science" isn't a science. Social science, military science, computer science, and library science are such oxymorons. The same joke applies to the word "intelligence." Military intelligence, business intelligence ...

artificial intelligence

Yet artificial intelligence is no longer artificial. In a number of ways, an interaction with an automated agent has now become indistinguishable from human-to-human engagement. Have you been on the line with a call center lately? Or have you chatted online with a customer service agent? It is not necessarily a human. And we are all totally cool with that.

In some ways, an AI can be more like a superhero. We all know about heroes and their fantastic, unbelievable feats. Welcome to the future: Nina (

Let's delve deeper into AI's new identity. IBM has renamed them "cognitive systems." And they are becoming quite cognitive. In a moment, I will you why you must embrace this technology now and not wait for an AI to knock on your door.

Watson was named after IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson (1874 -1956). The system gained notoriety for beating chess champions and Jeopardy contestants, solely using data and rules that had been stored in the single computer. The success of these demonstrations increased exploration of artificial intelligence to address business and societal challenges. As processing power increased and storage costs dropped, new applications became within reach of a whole new group of enthusiasts.

Watson has now moved from daytime television to prime time. When it was granted access to the Internet, it no longer depended on what was stored in its memory. It is now only limited by what it can learn. And, there is not an upper limit to what AI's can learn.

Our world will never be the same.

The media shares stories of algorithmic stock trading, autonomous vehicles and self-propelled robots that can "see," all of which have changed our view of what smart machines can do. In the disrupted transportation industry, jobs are being posted for "deep learning" engineers by BMW, Tesla, Toyota, Nissan, Audi, Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Uber, Lyft and others. Basically, they are ALL in. The race is on.

Someday soon, you may own or rent a car; but you will not drive it.

Much more is about to be revealed in the months ahead.

What does this mean for YOUR business?

The time is now to explore and expand. As promised, here are the two things you need to start today to stay in the front of the pack.

First, release the brakes

Every company has some risk takers. Find a few that have an interest in AI. Don't wait for your recruiting department to onboard the experts you will need later. You can invest in some consultants for the interim.

Now set them free to explore. Research shows that a few people working together innovate better than large committees. Suspend governance for a time and let them race.

Second, release your data

A recipe for failure is not using enough data. There's a technical term that loosely fits this issue: "overfitting." Too little data, and results can be disappointing? Why? Machines aren't human, and they process information differently. So don't hold back. Let the machine take it all in. Your team will experiment and tweak to make it work. They will teach themselves to "race with the machine."

Follow these steps and you will outdistance your competition. That is, if they haven't started without you. Happy racing.


An honest contest is a good thing. In the interest of fairness, this essay contains open advice for all competitors.


I lead a team that helps life science companies and healthcare organizations discover meaningful insights. My focus is helping businesses employ technology to gain a greater understanding of human ambitions and needs.  If we use that knowledge well, we can create a better world for all of us.

These words are my own. They do not represent the position of my employer or any other entity, unless otherwise indicated.

Copyright (c) 2016, Jack C Crawford, All rights reserved