I’m not a robot, but this part of my job might be filled by one in the not-so-distant future. For many news sources, it’s already the case. A few weeks ago on our show about strategy, I mentioned that automation is one of the trends I think every CEO should be watching, even just out of the corner of your eye. Our guests this week, C.W. Henderson, President, and Vice President and Publisher, Kalani Rosell from NewsRx and NewSRX, were here to talk to us about automation, artificial intelligence, and why they are so important.
What is AI?
Many of us have a picture of AI akin to Wall-E, or the kid from the Spielberg movie, but AI takes a lot of different forms – from self-driving cars, to search algorithms, autonomous weapons, and everyone’s best friends, Siri and Alexa. AI has invaded our world.
Kalani outlines several different types of AI.
Reactive machines fall into the category of automated chess partners. You make a move and the computer calculates the best move to make in return. They react to what you’ve already done.
Limited memory AI includes devices like the Roomba – a small vacuum cleaning robot that can remember where in the room it has been, but does not have any other AI functions
Template following AI covers the formatted news articles, as well as specific reports and forms that follow the same specific processes every time.
Sentient AI starts to get a bit more science fiction feeling. Kalini explains, “If you create a robot that sees tears on your face, it will understand that person must be sad or something bad must have happened. I need to tailor my response to that.”
Self-Aware AI is where we get into full on Sci-Fi, where the machine understands not only what others are feeling, but one that “actually understands itself, what it’s feeling, and it has memories and it can tap into the subconscious.”
We aren’t quite there with those last couple yet – but it’s likely that they are coming one of these days.
The World of A.I.- Changes are Afoot
Says CW, “It’s hard to keep up with. And every single CEO in every company must understand, and be prepared and ready, to automate.”
NewsRx has been utilizing increasing amounts of support from AI for years. It started out as software to help editors, and ended up replacing both editors and writers almost entirely. CW says, “You cannot tell that (the articles) are not written by humans. We just let people believe what they want. And most people until the last year or two, have thought that our articles were always written by humans, and they have not been.” Computer written NewsRX articles have been downloaded and read over a billion times, and the NewsRX automation creates about 30,000 articles weekly.
Before the recent presidential election, most surveys pointed to Hillary Clinton being elected the next president of the United States however not all predictions had Hillary coming out the winner. Sanjiv Rai, founder of the Indian company Genic.ai, predicted Trump as the winner based on findings by his artificial intelligence system, which takes in over 20 million data points from public platforms (Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter), analyses the information, and makes a prediction based on the results. It was created in 2004, and has consistently correctly predicted election results ever since.
Despite all the amazing things AI can do, don’t look for humans to disappear altogether anytime soon. Look at this as a part of our evolution. Kalini quotes a NewRx team member who said, “It’s really cool. We’re not here to make super-humans…we’re here to make humans super.” AI, said Kalini, is helping humans do more, and be better at their jobs.
Does that mean that jobs aren’t disappearing? No. In many cases, they are. When their AI writing software got powerful enough, NewsRx had to let their writing and editing staff go. Production jobs are disappearing to robots. Algorithms are replacing financial advisors. Things are changing. It’s important to be aware of what those changes will be, and be prepared.
Good Things Take Time
The biggest drawback to AI (aside from the possibility that it may someday conquer the human race and take over the world), is the amount of time and expertise needed to create good outcomes. It’s an investment. Not only do you need an expert team of programmers, you need a person who is an expert in the field you are trying to replicate. CW is such an expert in news articles. He took the 10 steps he learned in journalism school to create an article, and in working with the programming team, led by Jones, those steps got broken down even further. CW says, “The AI is the same as a human in terms of writing our news articles, and it’s because we were willing to write the code that was required, and of course over the last couple of decades you have to keep writing code and keep revising code because the world changes.”
CW continues, “It is writing a lot of code and if you’re willing to put out the money, the effort and the resources to write a lot of code, you can get AI to do pretty much anything.”
A Fortune Magazine article says, “After decades of speculation and justifiable anxiety about the social implications for humankind, the AI era is finally here.” The article goes on to say that the Bank of England estimates that robots will eventually replace 48% of the bank’s human workers. ArkInvest is also cited as predicting that 76 million jobs in the U.S. will disappear in the next 20 years. These job losses will cover the spectrum of employees, from factory workers to Wall Street.
AI will likely take over doing many of our mundane daily tasks – cleaning the house, doing the laundry, paying the bills. It will change the daily rhythms of our home life as well as our life at work. Business News Daily suggests that AI will create more wealth – but that it will, at the beginning anyway, not be evenly distributed.
CW says, “I think the biggest take away, or the biggest kind of direction people should be focusing on, is just understanding tech. Never stop innovating. Tech is always going to be moving forward, whether it’s automation, AI, machine learning, whatever it may be… there’s always going to be people pushing the boundaries of what’s currently possible, and what’s going to be possible.” No matter what your industry is, AI is coming. Position yourself to be one of the people pushing the boundaries.