Founded in early 2017 by tech expert Paul Hallett and experienced veterinarian Robert Dawson, Vet-AI is an R&D company developing a number of solutions that focus on supporting pets, vets and giving pet parents the tools to access care more affordably and conveniently when their pets need it most. The company’s flagship brand, Joii, is set to launch in April 2019.
The Index surveyed more than 1,500 senior IT leaders from across the globe to understand where organisations are on their IT operations transformation journey, revealing a four-step model for IT operations maturity, focused on how organisations handle events they face.
Talking AI outfit ContactEngine has been awared ‘Co-Sell Partner’ status as part of the Microsoft for Startups London ScaleUp programme for high-growth technology companies. ContactEngine joins an group selected for comprehensive sales and marketing support and go-to-market initiatives.
ContactEngine’s automated conversation management platform integrates into Microsoft Dynamics to provide an AI-powered ‘voice’ to engage customers across all conversational channels and across all industries.
While traditional CRMs require human agents to engage customers, ContactEngine integrates to automate outbound customer engagement and subsequent transactions, replicating human behaviour through machine learning and natural language understanding. The ContactEngine Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform is hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud, which allows for on-demand global scalability and best-in-class security.
Dr Mark K. Smith, CEO of ContactEngine, said: “ContactEngine shares Microsoft’s objective to optimise organisational outcomes through enhanced customer engagement. We’re pleased to support Microsoft by integrating into their Dynamics Engagement platform to talk to our clients’ customers with intent driven, AI-powered conversations – improving customer experience, and ensuring crucial moments such as sales, deliveries and appointments are executed with precision and minimal effort.”
Warwick Hill, Managing Director of Microsoft for Startups, Western Europe, said: “There is a very strong synergy between Microsoft Dynamics and ContactEngine’s automated conversations and customer engagement capabilities. We are pleased to be able to integrate the full power of ContactEngine, into Microsoft’s solutions through Azure.”
Synergy… it’s like energy…
Addressing the assembled throngs in his keynote speech at Microsoft’s Inspire global conference in Las Vegas, Nadella said the tech could improve human relationships, but also warned that ethics must be implemented to ensure users’ privacy.
“We have to do our very best work when it comes to privacy because as technology becomes pervasive in our lives, we have to approach everything with the fundamental assumption that privacy is a human right”, he said.
Nadella emphasised that the IT industry needs a set of “ethical principles” to ensure that technology does not unduly influence real-life events.
“We want to make sure that anything that we do doesn’t amplify bias, doesn’t hijack our attention, and doesn’t sway opinion”, he said.
“The Tech Accord is a fantastic example of that because the world in our time needs a new Geneva Convention. We need to make sure that the most vulnerable populations are protected from these new weapons. And when it comes to AI, we have to have a set of principles that guide the development of AI.”
He did not mention the vendor’s recent acquisition of conversational AI company Semantic Machines, but he emphasised that Microsoft is working to ensure its machine learning will soon have the same conversational capabilities as a human being.
“In the last couple of years, some of the advances – especially as measured by our ability to have human parity in a lot of these perception and language capabilities – is pretty stunning”, Nadella added.
He explained that the “ultimate AI challenge” for Microsoft is to develop a two-way natural conversation between bot and human.
“We’re also trying to push this concept of language understanding or this capability of language understanding to the next level, to have the ability to do full duplex conversations”, he added.
The firm claims that AI will create around 7.2 million jobs in the UK between 2017 and 2037, while displacing seven million others.
More than 20 percent of jobs will be automated by 2037 and that all industries will be affected by AI, the report said.
The healthcare sector will see a net boost in jobs of 22 percent between 2017 and 2037 as a result of AI.
The professional, scientific and technical sector is predicted to see a net job increase of 16 percent, with a six percent net jobs increase expected in the education sector. A full table of the predictions can be found below.
The manufacturing industry is forecast to be the hardest hit, with net jobs expected to fall by 25 percent. Net jobs in the transport and storage sector are predicted to decline by 22 per cent, with net public administration roles expected to be reduced by 18 percent.
John Hawksworth, PwC chief economist, said: “Healthcare is likely to see rising employment as it will be increasingly in demand as society becomes richer and the UK population ages.
“While some jobs may be displaced, many more are likely to be created as real incomes rise and patients still want the ‘human touch’ from doctors, nurses and other health and social care workers.
“On the other hand, as driverless vehicles roll out across the economy and factories and warehouses become increasingly automated, the manufacturing and transportation and storage sectors could see a reduction in employment levels.”
Hawksworth compared AI’s effect on job creation and losses to similar patterns that occurred due to other disruptive technologies in the past.
“Major new technologies, from steam engines to computers, displace some existing jobs but also generate large productivity gains. This reduces prices and increases real income and spending levels, which in turn creates demand for additional workers,” he said.
“Our analysis suggests the same will be true of AI, robots and related technologies, but the distribution of jobs across sectors will shift considerably in the process.”
Nozha Boujemaa, director of the Data and AI institute of Université Paris-Saclay (DATAIA), has been nominated to the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLG).
The group’s objective is to support the implementation of the European strategy on AI.
Nozha Boujemaa’s role will be to provide recommendations on future AI-related policy development and on the ethical, legal and societal issues related to AI.
Following a recent open selection process, the Commission appointed 52 experts to the new group, comprising representatives from academia, civil society, as well as industry.
The AI HLG will serve as the steering group for the European AI Alliance’s work, will interact with other initiatives, help stimulate a multi-stakeholder dialogue, gather participants’ views and reflect them in its analysis and reports.
Specifically, the group will be tasked to advise on the next steps addressing mid to long-term AI-related challenges and opportunities, propose AI ethics guidelines and support the Commission on further engagement and outreach mechanisms to interact with a broader set of stakeholders.
David Ku, CVP and CTO of research and AI at Microsoft, said that most bots today, such as Siri and Cortana, can understand basic commands, but nothing more complicated.
“For rich and effective communication, intelligent assistants need to be able to have a natural dialogue instead of just responding to commands”, Ku explained, adding that this was called ‘conversational AI’.
Semantic Machines was founded by Larry Gillick, former chief speech scientist for Siri at Apple. The company claims to enable more natural interactions between humans and computers, and that its developing technology will understand conversational nuances.
Ku stated that this acquisition would integrate conversational AI into Microsoft’s own AI services, such as Cortana and Azure Bot Service. “Combining Semantic Machines’ technology with Microsoft’s own AI advances, we aim to deliver powerful, natural and more productive user experiences that will take conversational computing to a new level”, he said.
Ku said that Semantic Machines’ acquisition furthers the tech giant’s goal of creating computers that can “see, hear, talk and understand” as humans. This will be integrated into the company’s digital assistant Cortana, along with its chatbot XiaoIce, which has conducted over 30 billion conversations with people across Asia and the US.
Speaking to a room of more than 14,000 delegates including 5,000 channel representatives in Las Vegas, Dell said organisations were going to lose their competitive edge if they didn’t implement AI and machine learning to use data.
“To be competitive in the future, you have got to use software and data and AI. Businesses are starting to use AI and machine learning to use that data much more effectively… Data helps make a product or a solution better, and this allows a company to attract more customers, which then results in more data, and the cycle repeats itself.”
He added: “AI is your rocket ship and data is the fuel for your rocket. If you know how to use it, your data will become your most valuable asset – even more valuable than your applications.”
Dell thought his PC business would continue to thrive despite a push towards emerging technologies such as AI and IoT.
Michael Dell recounted IBM’s departure from the PC business more than 20 years ago. Dell’s CEO said that at the time Biggish Blue declared the beginning of a post-PC era.
“Our PC business is rocking. In the last five years, every year and every quarter we have gained share, and we expect to do so again this quarter. It has been 20 years since IBM declared the post-PC era. Since then, four billion PCs have been sold, so maybe they got that bit wrong. But what they got right is that computing would expand to include embedded devices.”
IDC’s research director of artificial brains David Schubmehl, said: “Interest and awareness of AI are at fever pitch. Every industry and every organisation should be evaluating AI to see how it will affect their business processes and go-to-market efficiencies.”
Retail firms will invest $3.4 billion this year on AI, including automated customer service agents, expert shopping advisors and product recommendations, and merchandising for omnichannel operations.
Banking, meanwhile, will spend $3.3 billion mostly on automated threat intelligence and prevention systems, fraud analysis and investigation, and programme advisors and recommendation systems.
Discrete manufacturing and health are the third and fourth-largest industries for AI spend.
IDC forecasts that across verticals, investment in AI will continue to grow, with 40 percent of digital transformation initiatives using AI services by 2019 and 75 percent of enterprise applications using AI by 2021.
The US will deliver more than three-quarters of all spending on cognitive and AI systems in 2018, with western Europe being the second-largest region.
IDC predicts that Japan will see the most vigorous spending growth over the next five years at 73.5 percent followed by China on 68.2 percent.
An event on Thursday at the Shard in the City of London [pictured, left] will bring 160 resellers and their “favourite” distributor, Ignition Technology together with vendors to explore sales opportunities.
Ignition specialises in security. There’s a lot of money in security, especially considering the failures large corporations have suffered for a while.
The show will have McMafia star Misha Glenny, the author of a popular but a rather scary TV show – to kick off the event.
One of the vendors will be represented by JASK’s Greg Fitzgerald, a member of the firm’s advisory board who personally has a long history of security startups and for established companies too. He told ChannelEye today that the firm’s offering uses artificial intelligence (AI) – which he defined as a combination of mathematics and other algorithms – to pick up problems at medium to large corporations more or less immediately.
Corporations, he said, were picking up the pieces after security alerts and those alerts demanded many human beings to decide which were real threats that needed acting on now rather than later. JASK’s answer, he said was to pick up threats in real time, picking up and doing menial tasks, leaving it to “SWAT” squads to concentrate on the deeper aspects of a case.
Fitzgerald said that just as soon corporations recruited and trained humans to pick up the problems, the demand for security advisors was so great in government, in health and in other sectors that problems piled up. Storage is a problem too.
Corporations and security specialists within those firms were suffering from “alert fatigue” because there is an overload of such alerts from data sources, multiple devices, users, and networks.
[Image of the Shard courtesy of Colin on Wikipedia Commons.]
The firm uses AI to get ahead of security threats, has opened a research and development centre in Ireland and is planning to increase the channel numbers in the UK.
The firm has gained $36 million in series D funding, led by Atlantic Bridge along with a few others, including the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
The R&D centre in Ireland gives the firm a foothold in the EU and should generate up to 100 jobs over the next five years.
Hitesh Sheth, president and CEO of Vectra, said that it had already established some channel and customer relationships in the UK, but this funding would give it the chance to do more. He added that the company had a significant European footprint, but the funding would drive company growth internationally.
He added that the firm had taken the decision to be indirect since the beginning and wanted to add more resellers.
One of the issues that its software has been able to identify is a growing number of PCs that are being used for Bitcoin mining which can make PCs insecure.
While most of the news has been focusing on how many jobs AI will kill off, Gartner has now given a timeframe to when some of the changes will be felt in the workplace with the analyst house forecasting that 2020 will be the moment when AI starts to create more jobs than it eliminates.
In just over two years 2.3 million positions will have been created thanks to artificial intelligence with 1.8 million roles having been killed off thanks to the technology.
Gartner research vice president Svetlana Sicular said, any significant innovations in the past have been associated with a transition period of temporary job loss, followed by recovery, then business transformation and AI will likely follow this route.
“Unfortunately, most calamitous warnings of job losses confuse AI with automation — that overshadows the greatest AI benefit — AI augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other”, she added.
She urged IT leaders to start looking at ways to get people facing the end of their jobs ready for new roles.
“Now is the time to impact your long-term AI direction. For the greatest value, focus on augmenting people with AI. Enrich people’s jobs, reimagine old tasks and create new industries. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats,” she said.
Plugging Dell EMC’s Ready bundles, Dell warned that businesses need to be using the capabilities and output from AI, or risk making mistakes.
“In the not too distant future, if you are making decisions in your organisation without machine learning, you are probably doing it wrong”, he said.
Dell EMC is launching “Dell EMC Ready”, which bundles together networking, server and storage solutions that are optimised for AI and machine learning-based applications.
The bundles are optimised to allow applications in areas including fraud detection, image processing and financial investment analysis.
Dell EMC is working on the basis that while a number of organisations globally are deploying AI solutions, very few have the infrastructure to effectively manage the systems and the data they churn out.
The Dell EMC Ready range will be available from the vendor directly, and through channel partners, in the first half of 2018.
Deloitte researched over 51 UK companies and found that over half of respondents plan to invest over £10 million in AI over the next three years – with 30 percent saying they will have spent £10 million by the end of the year.
Deloitte UK digital transformation leader Paul Thompson said: “AI will have a profound impact on the future of work.
“Our view is that human and machine intelligence complement each other, and that AI should not simply be seen as a substitute. Humans working with AI will achieve better outcomes than AI alone, and UK businesses need to get this particular balance right.”
So far only 22 percent of organisations said they had not yet invested any money in AI, with just one third expecting to spend more than £1 million this year.
Deloitte said these figures are an indication that organisations are testing AI rather than skippin straight to large deployments.
More than 77 percent of leaders expect AI to disrupt their industries, but only eight percent expect AI to replace human activity in their businesses.
A survey showed that around a third of staff were not in a position to start working with more automation and AI tools.
Ricoh Europe’s VP of corporate marketing, Javier Diez-Aguirre, said that there was a great deal of hype in Europe around digital empowerment and its impact on productivity.
“While AI and automation will transform the way that we work, a lack of training will drastically reduce ROI. Businesses need to consider the person who will be using the new technology. No amount of infrastructure spending will help a business that isn’t encouraging its staff to develop the right skills”, he said.
Despite headlines about being replaced by robots, Europe’s workers see technology to do higher value work, not something that will replace them, he said.
Improving workers’ confidence to use new technology was not a catch-all situation.
“Successfully empowering digital workplaces requires different skillsets and a variety of needs must be catered for. Engaging with workers at every step is vital”, Diez-Aguirre added.
If this is the case, resellers trying to pitch AI and automation to corporates do not have to mention that the tech will mean job losses – because it won’t.