Have You heard? AI is the next big thing. No, not all-inclusive, although in these post-Brexit vote times all-inclusive holidays are proving popular at Holidaysplease, as customers look to lock down their holiday budgets. I’m talking artificial intelligence.
AI – the way in which technology is developing so that computers and programmes can make decisions and perform tasks that normally require a human being.
We all experience service in a retail environment or when calling customer care that at times can feel like we’re talking to a robot in human form. And any team leader will know how hard it can be to train people to change and improve.
So, in the future how cool will it be to be able to pre-programme your AI staff to deliver outstanding service, tailored to each customer, every time – day in, day out. Training will be just an updated algorithm. No Monday sickies, no bad attitudes, no egos. Just a 100%-focused team performing at their optimum. Wow! Where do I sign up?
The thing is though; leaders already hold the performance of teams in their hands. Teams reflect leaders. If your team is not performing, perhaps you just need to programme it better.
And in the AI world, humans will still be the encoders. The artificial intelligences will have the moral standards and ethics of the human that programmed them. On a grander scale, that’s a scary thought. In the hands of questionable human morality, the decisions and subsequent AI actions taken could be catastrophic.
Pie in the sky nonsense? Well, just earlier this year Microsoft revealed Tay, a Twitter bot described as an experiment in “conversational understanding”. Microsoft proudly announced that the more you chat with Tay, the more it will learn and engage as it gets smarter.
Within 24 hours’ humans had corrupted it! Fun conversations soon turned to Twitter users engaging Tay with all manner of racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks, which before long Tay had learned and begun to share with gusto!
For it to truly succeed – to be squeaky clean and correct in judgement – experts reckon on us needing to set higher moral values for artificial intelligences than most of us display as humans. We have work to do then. In the meantime, we can continue to set the agenda for how our teams behave and how our businesses interact with customers by innovating, testing and adopting with an open mind.
A young guy who knows a bit about innovation and development is Josh Valman, who was an inspired choice to speak at the recent Hays Independence Group conference.
A mid-20 something heading up a multi-national R&D company may not have been the obvious choice to resonate with a travel audience. Yet among anecdotes of youthful entrepreneurial success and researching sex toys, Josh introduced us to the power of seeing the same thing – just seeing it differently. That’s future thinking in a nutshell for you.
Josh also knows a thing or two about robots, which might just be handy going forward.
Richard Dixon is director of Holidaysplease