The Pros and Cons of Artificial Intelligence

This is an overview of what our partner IBM will be presenting at re:publica TEN.

Today's discussions about artificial intelligence, robots and cognition-based solutions can be controversial. What are the opportunities and what are the risks? These questions need to be taken into account in all thematic areas. Imagine a cognitive system which, through analysis, pattern recognition and intelligently linking information on patient medial records and medial research results, could significantly aid in cancer prevention. Most would agree that this would a valued and humane undertaking.

Critics of cognitive systems pose two particular questions: will cognitive systems cost more jobs than create them? If and when will cognitive system make decisions independent from human oversight? The first question brings up several studies with contradicting results. Taking the above example on cancer prevention tools to answer the second question: a doctor would always have to make the final assessment and the final call.

Cognitive Computing for Corporate Application

The risks of cognitive systems have to be discussed, particularly at re:publica. Critical debate with real people in mind should be the guiding motto, instead of the already failed approach of undermining, rejecting and simply banning new technological advances. Some jobs might be lost to cognitive systems, but new positions will also be created - as has always happened during industrial (r)evolutions.

IBM has been investing in cognitive systems for some time and together with IBM Watson has made significant advances. Years ago we celebrated IBM Watson's victory at Jeopardy, today we are talking about implementation in diverse fields of application, including the medical field and humanoid robots. The range of application seems endless.

A lot of attention has been generated by the Nao and Pepper robots, developed by Alderbaran in cooperation with IMB Watson. Using the moniker “Connie”, Nao is set for future use in Hilton Hotels to help with assisting guests. The cute robot receives continual input and learns from each interaction with people. Connie saves every question posed to it, in order to optimise and answer questions in future. Nao will be attending re:publica and will engage in some playful conversations and maybe even do the Gangnam-Style dance. Let's see what happens. 

During re:publica, our booth will be manned by experts from various IBM departments, who will be able to answer questions concerning cognitive abilities and possibilities. Visitors can also come and relive the 90s with the fuzzy Furby robot. But we're adding a twist: the Furbys have been upgraded with IBM Bluemix and Watson services to make them even more capable – now they can speak, sing, show emotions, interact with visitors and learn new things. re:publica attendees are invited to come visit the IBM booth for live demonstrations and developers are whole-heartedly invited to check out the IBM Bluexmix, Watson Sentiment Analytics and Watson Text-to-Speech API.

Experts from IBM's Collaboration department will also be at the booth to show how IBM integrates cognition with e-mail. Within 2016, users will be able to access a personal assistant programme which can help out with annoying, routine tasks. IBM analyses the inbox, sorts out daily to-dos and accurately suggests next steps. An example: a customer sends an e-mail asking for reply featuring the most up-to-date information on IBM Watson's application in the medical field. The system is now intelligent enough to search out this latest information, compose a draft e-mail with the results and suggest it to the user. The user then double checks the e-mail and sends it off.

Another interesting IBM project is Toscana. Simply put, a WhatsApp for businesses. In WhatsApp-style, businesses can engage in and edit retrievable conversations. Conversations run in a secure, business conforming IT environment and are integrated in existing system, such as the IBM Connections file storage.

The goal of IBM at re:publica is to appeal to Generation E-Mail, Generation Facebook and Generation WhatsApp with appropriate products, which are provided in a secure IT environment, and integrate all channels of communication into one dashboard.

Big Data and HR

Cognitive computing is just one topic being presented by IBM at re:publica. The IBM HR Festival, featuring the motto Work 4.0, will take place during the course of re:publica, and invites HR professionals, managers and CHROs to attend. The festival, open to re:publica attendees from 13:00, will look at the implementation of analytical systems in human resources departments, current research on the topic of work 4.0, as well as diversity topics. Expert speakers include Matthias Kempf (adidas) and Felicitas Lichtenberg (diversity and inclusion manage at Vodafone), HR pioneer Prof. Benedikt Hackl and Ole Wintermann (Bertelsmann Stiftung).

A particular highlight will be Thomas Sattelberger's talk on daring to revise and transform current HR system. Thomas Sattelberger is ex-CHRO at Deutsche Telekom, writer, political consultant and former top manager.

IBM Watson and the possibilities of cognitive systems will, of course, also feature at the IBM HR Festival, for example in the Julia Altenburg (Lufthansa) talk. The technology can use data and behaviour analysis to assist in the search for new talents and improve a workforce motivation and commitment.

Special Registration Process for HR Festival

Please note: you will need to register for the IBM HR Festival separately at ibm.com/de/HR2016 or on location at re:publica. Also, we hope you can appreciate that we will prioritise applicants who work in the field of human resources.

In case you would like to discuss particular questions, you are more than welcome to schedule a set appointment with us. I'm happy to arrange these. Of course, you are all more than welcome to come see us at our booth. We will be present every hour, on the hour and available to discuss particular topics, such as Furby & Bluexmix, WhatsApp for businesses and cognitive e-mail assistants.

Learn more about HangOut Work 4.0 and the HR Festival in this video.

Photo credit: Horia Pernea (CC BY 2.0) und IBM