RENE BUEST: My name is Rene Buest. I am Director of Technology Research here at Arago. I'm responsible for actually four kinds of areas, which are market research, market intelligence, and analyst relations, but also technology evangelism - meaning a big part of my job is also educating the market, and educating my colleagues on why AI is so important, and what you can do with it, but also where the pitfalls are.
DOTMAGAZINE: So looking firstly at AI for Internet infrastructure, how is Artificial Intelligence used to protect networks and Internet infrastructure from disturbances?
BUEST: The good thing, or the good use case for AI for protecting the Internet infrastructure is, since there are a lot of data that are created during the use of Internet infrastructure, you can basically use AI perfectly for analyzing the data, the log files, to see what is going on right now in the Internet or in your typical infrastructure. And you can act on that. So, if you see that something is happening which is actually not normal, so if you see anomalies, you can react there on time and start prevention on this. This is also where AI perfectly comes into the place right now, because everyone is talking about AI replacing humans, but right now it's more about analyzing the data, making suggestions out of it, making recommendations, but mostly analyzing what is going on, and understanding basically what you can do in order to prevent things or to help people know what they can do. It's more like a buddy approach, meaning also that all these security administrators are not necessarily going to lose their jobs, but they can get a better understanding of what is happening and then can react to this.
DOT: So what about when we look at its application in cloud computing? How is AI evolving there?
BUEST: When you're looking at the big public cloud providers right now, like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft with Azure, or a Google Cloud platform, you see that they started very early to introduce AI services like machine learning, or analytics services, or they also have services for their virtual private assistants – the Google Assistant, or Amazon Echo, or Microsoft's Cortana. And my opinion is that Artificial Intelligence in the cloud is actually the logical development, because the cloud is there for having good access or easy access to infrastructure when you need it, to use it on demand. And the AI application around this is more to get a better understanding of the customer based on their past interactions and also their behavior.
This means what you can see in the market right now is that these digital masterminds, I would call them - like companies who have been digital for a very long time now - embraced cloud computing a very long time ago. They are actually the pioneers when it comes to cloud computing – like Netflix, or Expedia, or Spotify – and they also started very early to engage with AI-related services. They use cloud computing for better efficiency, or to change their business model. I mean, as you know, Netflix started in 1997 shipping DVDs, and now they have the biggest market share when it comes to video streaming. But they are also leveraging Artificial Intelligence in the background by giving recommendations to their customers, based on past interactions or other viewing behavior, for example.
So this is what you see. It's what I would call the “magic triangle” – companies who are digital are utilizing the cloud to a big extent and they also now have been using AI-related services for a very long time to give their customers a better experience, to understand their customers in a better way, and therefore they are also actually on the leading edge right now when it comes to the use of technology.
DOT: Thinking about cloud computing as being one fundamental tool for enterprises, what other applications are developing through Artificial Intelligence to support enterprises?
BUEST: What we see right now is, especially also in our customer base, that enterprises are introducing AI for autonomous process automation. This is not only about developing new products or services. This is more about driving efficiency inside their organizations – meaning that an AI is basically able to run and operate any process that exists inside an organization. Again, this is not only about setting people free. This is about, based on high automation rates, giving people more time and also saving money. And we are of the opinion that when you have high automation rates, you save money, you give your people more time – and more money plus more time leads to innovation.
What we see right now is that enterprises are introducing autonomous process-automation based on Artificial Intelligence, firstly at the IT level, in the IT operations. Because in the end, when it's about the data you also need to analyze, where is the data ending or stored in the end? It's in the IT environment. And if you are able to give the Artificial Intelligence technology access to the data at an early stage so that the AI technology can get access to the applications, the data stores, the databases, everything within the IT operations, it's also possible afterwards, or easier, to introduce an AI to any business process you have inside an organization.
DOT: How do you envisage the development of innovative business models based on AI?
BUEST: So what we see is this part of the AI-driven world that we are starting to live in. And this is about a better understanding of the customer. As I said, this is based on the past interactions and their behavior, but it's also about giving their customers a better, a fancier experience of the changing customer interaction from keyboard entry to the speech control. Because right now we are still typing when we are searching for something, or when we are starting an application on our iPhone or Android device. But over time, and it has already started, we are also speaking with our devices, we're saying Alexa, or hey Siri, or those kind of things.
This also has a deep impact on how applications will be developed in the future. So the developers also have to understand, when they are creating an application, that the way the customer or the user is interacting with this application is completely different. And this is also about getting a deeper engagement through, for example, the smart virtual assistants enhancing the customer experience. So that you can give your customers a 24/7, basically also 365, support by having an Artificial Intelligence introduced in your customer engagement lifecycle. So, even if you, as a smaller company, are not able to have a call center that is available over the entire day, week, month or year, you can introduce an AI at least to give answers to the most asked questions. And in the end, it’s about the customer knowing, OK, there is someone I can basically talk to and get an answer. Maybe not a 100 percent qualified answer in the beginning, but at least there's someone who's taking care of me.
It's all about customized products and service offerings aligned with the customer's needs. In the beginning of this digital world, we had mass customization, and now it's more about the customization of individuals, because we are basically providing so many data and information to our providers or to the companies we are buying goods from, and they can actually analyze everything and also deliver us products highly customized, based on our needs and what we actually really want. It's also about prediction – by analyzing data interactions and the behavior from the past, and especially in real time. This actually comes along with these customized products and – as I already said – you also have a more conversational experience with these smart personal systems, or with the bots. And in the end, it's about augmentation of the existing and new products, services, applications, and processes, so that existing things that are already there are becoming more intelligent by having maybe more sensors that can be analyzed, or the data that is coming out of these sensors can be analyzed. And then, in the end, this gives us a better user experience and better customer experience.
DOT: We've heard a lot in the media recently about the threat of AI. I get the feeling that you don't see Artificial Intelligence as a threat. Where do you stand on the evolution of AI?
BUEST: I'm not afraid that the machines are going to kill us in the future. I mean, you don't need Artificial Intelligence in order to build robots who run around and kill everybody. You just need a script, basically, a script which says randomly shoot around. So, I don't think Artificial Intelligence is a threat to kill us.
It's the same with losing jobs. You should think about this: It's not AI, in the end, that is actually killing the jobs. It's automation. But to be honest, the weavers are also not weaving anymore. It's about this industrial revolution we have. Of course, certain people will lose their jobs, but jobs that are very repetitive, kind of boring jobs, where you have to do things on a daily basis, and you're doing it every time, and you're repeating it, repeating it, and repeating it. Meaning that the more individual your skills are, you actually would not lose your job – if you have very high skills which are very individual. And what we also see is that there are also lots of jobs where gut feeling is very important, or where empathy is very important. It's also something where machines actually cannot replace us.
When it comes to the ethical part, I just recently got asked these questions when I was on stage: How should a car decide, if there is a human being on the street, or is there is an older man on the street and a young boy on the street? How should an AI decide on this? And actually, I don't have an answer to this, because this is a question that the entire society should think about. And then there was an answer from the audience, who said well, if there's still no answer for this question, no one will use this car. And I disagree 100 percent on this. People will still use it because they actually don't think about it. And I'm not sure if anyone will ever have an answer to this. So how should the machine decide? In the very end, it's still that we program these machines, and we can influence how these machines are also acting. So it's still up to the human being who is developing these machines based on Artificial Intelligence.
DOT: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
BUEST: Maybe one thing. My advice is actually that one should not only think about a certain technology. It's actually not only about cloud. It's not only about Artificial Intelligence. It's not only about blockchain, or IoT. It's about digital correlation. If you think about it, everything actually is connected together. Meaning without cloud computing, for example, AI would not have this hype we have right now. And also without fog computing, IoT would also not have the success it's going to have in the future. So it's not only about single technologies or single concepts. It's about the big picture and every organization, every decision maker, has to think about this.
Rene Buest is Director of Technology Research at Arago. Prior to that he was Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption, and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network.
Please note: The opinions expressed in Industry Insights published by dotmagazine are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the publisher, eco – Association of the Internet Industry.