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May 11, 2017

AI, robots will replace professionals in healthcare by 2022

CIOs have a major role to play in preparing businesses for the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) will have on business strategy and human employment, according to Gartner. The market research firm predicts that by 2022, smart machines and robots may replace highly trained professionals in tasks within medicine, law and IT.

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The economics of AI and machine learning will lead to many tasks performed by professionals today becoming low-cost utilities, believes Stephen Prentice, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "AI’s effects on different industries will force the enterprise to adjust its business strategy. Many competitive, high-margin industries will become more like utilities as AI turns complex work into a metered service that the enterprise pays for, like electricity."

AI, humans complementing each other

The effects that AI will have on the enterprise will depend on its industry, business, organization and customers.  "Ultimately, AI and humans will differentiate themselves from each other," said Prentice. "AI is most successful in addressing problems that are reasonably well-defined and narrow in scope, whereas humans excel at defining problems that need to be solved and at solving complex problems. They bring a wide range of knowledge and skill to bear and can work through problems in various ways. They can collaborate with one another, and when situations change significantly, humans can adjust."

CIOs should use the enterprise’s five-year vision to develop a plan for achieving the right balance of AI and human skills. Too much AI-driven automation could leave the enterprise less flexible and less able to adjust to a changing competitive landscape. This approach will also help reassure employees about where and how AI will be used in the organization.

Restructure IT Operations

AI will eventually replace many routine functions of the IT organization, particularly on the operations side, such as in system administration, help desk, project management and application support. Some roles will disappear, but AI will improve some skills shortages, and the IT organization as a whole will increasingly focus on more creative work that differentiates the enterprise.

"The CIO should commission the enterprise architecture team to identify which IT roles will become utilities and create a timeline for when these changes become possible," said Mr. Prentice. "Work with HR to ensure that the enterprise has a plan to mitigate any disruptions that AI will cause, such as offering training and upskilling to help operational staff to move into more-creative positions."

On the treshold

AI frightens people as well, Dutch thinktank VINT writes. We are on the threshold of an extraordinary development that makes the automation heart beat faster. Recent announcements by both Facebook and tech pioneer Elon Musk to build brain interfaces are great examples.

But together with the expanding possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), emotions run higher and higher. In healthcare for example platforms like IBM Watson are sometimes seen as replacing radiologists in diagnosing because the AI is som much faster. A new report from SogetiLabs ‘The Frankenstein Factor: the Anatomy of Fear of AI’ recommends taking these emotions seriously and pleads for a therapeutic approach. A focus on IT efficiency and effectiveness should be accompanied by a focus on human existence. 

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Emotions are explosive material, they should not be ignored, VINT states. Organizations aware of the FrankensteinFactors increase the likelihood of AI success. Advise from the report: Start the dialogue with the environment (customers and employees), full transparency concerning the functioning of AI-algorithms and make human values central to the AI plans.

A recent European resolution and guidelines drawn up by science and industry (Asilomar principles) provide the concrete tools for dealing with this. The report outlines the state of affairs in the current debate on superintelligence (and superstupidity) and unfolds cultural and psychological relationships that explain the fear of AI.

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