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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE


THE TRUTH ABOUT AI I


N LATE 2017, A REPORT BY THE RSA (Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) stated that artificial intelligence (AI) and robots could replace 15 per cent of the UK workforce


over the next decade. The report, The Age of Automation: Artificial intelligence, robotics and the future of low-skilled work, triggered a debate throughout 2018 and now not a week passes without an AI headline laced with fear. AI was cited by the RSA report as


being transformational to the number of employees needed in finance, professional services, transportation and many other sectors. The same report found that 13 per cent of employers expect 30 per cent of roles to be automated in the next ten years. And research from the Business Travel Show found that just over half of travel buyers surveyed believed that automation technologies will impact their role within the next three years. Much of the press coverage of AI has fostered fear, but also gives the impression AI will happen in the near future. However, the truth is, AI is with us in the here and now. “The hype leads to misunderstanding and excessive expectations and excessive


Don’t believe the hype – artificial intelligence can offer the business travel sector improvements in information management, processes and travel experience


fear,” says Andrew Burgess, an independent advisor and author of An Executive Guide to AI. Burgess helps organisations develop AI strategies and create a roadmap for AI usage and he describes his role as being, “to make AI boring”. “AI is some clever maths that can benefit your business,” says Burgess, defining the technology. Just as computers replaced the typing pool, emails the fax, and the mobile the pager, the reality of AI is not the white robot lazily used by many fearmongers, but the next iteration of technology to carry out essential tasks. “AI covers the whole landscape from


chatbots to advanced predictive analytics and machine learning,” Burgess adds, explaining that it is the variety of AI technologies that has fed the hype.


WORDS MARK CHILLINGWORTH buyingbusinesstravel.com


BOOKER BONUS “Data and data-driven applications will be the future,” says Marion Mesnage, head of research, innovation and ventures at Amadeus IT Group. In her view, far from replacing travel buyers, AI is set to enhance their role. “AI is not something that is new, it is the enablement, in terms of hardware, performance and data, that is changing the game,” Mesnage says.


2019 MAY/JUNE 59


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