Insightful Quotes on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) today, is a practical reality. It captivated the minds of geniuses and materialised through science fiction as I grew up. During the past 70 years (post WWII) AI has evolved from a philosophical theory to a game changing emerging technology, transforming the way digital enhances value in every aspect of our daily lives.

Great minds have been challenged with the opportunities and possibilities that AI offers.  Here are some things said on the AI subject to date. Within these quotes, the conundrum in people’s minds become clear – does AI open up endless possibilities or inevitable doom?

“I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”; Alan Turing (1950)

“It seems probable that once the machine thinking method has started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.”; Alan Turing

“The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”; John McCarthy (1956)

“AI scientists tried to program computers to act like humans without first understanding what intelligence is and what it means to understand. They left out the most important part of building intelligent machines, the intelligence … before we attempt to build intelligent machines we have to first understand how the brain things, and there is nothing artificial about that.”; Jeff Hawkins

“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.”; Edsger Dijkstra

“Whether we are based on carbon or on silicon makes no fundamental difference; we should each be treated with appropriate respect.”; Arthur Clarke (2010)

“…everything that civilisation has to offer is a product of human intelligence. We cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools that AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease, and poverty would be high on anyone’s list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.”; Stephen Hawking and colleagues wrote in an article in the Independent

“Why give a robot an order to obey orders—why aren’t the original orders enough? Why command a robot not to do harm—wouldn’t it be easier never to command it to do harm in the first place? Does the universe contain a mysterious force pulling entities toward malevolence, so that a positronic brain must be programmed to withstand it? Do intelligent beings inevitably develop an attitude problem? …Now that computers really have become smarter and more powerful, the anxiety has waned. Today’s ubiquitous, networked computers have an unprecedented ability to do mischief should they ever go to the bad. But the only mayhem comes from unpredictable chaos or from human malice in the form of viruses. We no longer worry about electronic serial killers or subversive silicon cabals because we are beginning to appreciate that malevolence—like vision, motor coordination, and common sense—does not come free with computation but has to be programmed in. …Aggression, like every other part of human behavior we take for granted, is a challenging engineering problem!”; Steven Pinker – How the Mind Works

“Ask not what AI is changing, ask what AI is not changing.”; Warwick Oliver Co-Founder at (2018)

“Sometimes at night I worry about TAMMY. I worry that she might get tired of it all. Tired of running at sixty-six terahertz, tired of all those processing cycles, every second of every hour of every day. I worry that one of these cycles she might just halt her own subroutine and commit software suicide. And then I would have to do an error report, and I don’t know how I would even begin to explain that to Microsoft.”; Charles Yu

“As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.”; Amit Ray

“We’ve been seeing specialized AI in every aspect of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed, and it promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy …”; Barrack Obama

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russian, but for all of humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”; Vladimir Putin

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, I’d probably say that. So we need to be very careful.”; Elon Musk

“Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future I think, yeah, technology can generally always be used for good and bad and you need to be careful about how you build it … if you’re arguing against AI then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents, and you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick.”; Mark Zuckerberg

“Most of human and animal learning is unsupervised learning. If intelligence was a cake, unsupervised learning would be the cake, supervised learning would be the icing on the cake, and reinforcement learning would be the cherry on the cake. We know how to make the icing and the cherry, but we don’t know how to make the cake. We need to solve the unsupervised learning problem before we can even think of getting to true AI.”; Yan Lecun

“Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we’re working on.”; Larry Page,  Co-Founder at Google (2000)

If you had all of the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” – Sergey Brin Co-Founder at Goolgle (2004)




The Business Consulting Industry Is Booming, and It’s About to Be Disrupted

Guest Blog: Soren Kaplan via Inc

Image CREDIT: Getty Images

Whether the focus is strategy, operations, tax, finance, HR, or IT, business consultants are a staple of corporate life. Today, over 700,000 consulting firms provide services across virtually all aspects of business globally. From defining strategic direction to simply serving as an additional pair of hands for outsourced work, consultants have become inextricably linked to the success of most large organizations.

Here’s the issue: Festering underneath myriad consulting offerings, methodologies, tools, and firms lie some vulnerabilities that will eventually unravel the consulting business model — the same kind of dramatic disruption that other industries like photography, publishing, health care, and many others have experienced.

An industry becomes susceptible to disruption when it becomes entrenched in its longstanding solutions and financial structure. Disruptive innovations provide simpler or more elegant solutions to existing problems, enabled by new technology and often at a lower cost. Think portable calculators versus computers, Amazon versus bookstores, Netflix versus Blockbuster, or digital cameras versus film.

Management consulting is not immune to the dynamics of disruption. According to IBISWorld, for example, “the Management Consulting industry is in the mature stage of its life cycle. The industry is characterized by growth in line with the overall economy, an increasing number of industry players, and technological change based on improving efficiency rather than developing entirely new services.”

In any industry, when the basis of competition becomes efficiency versus innovation and new solutions, disruption lies on the horizon.

Five fatal flaws of the consulting industry

Here are five inherent qualities of the management consulting industry that make it susceptible to technology-driven disruption:

  1. Labor intensive. Most consulting services rely on humans as the fundamental source of research, analysis, recommendations, process definition, process management, and facilitation.
  2. Billable time-based business model. The fee structure underlying most consulting services is tied to billable hours or days, which encourages lengthy, overstaffed engagements to maximize revenue.
  3. High margins. The cost of “goods” in consulting refers not to products but to people. The billable rates of junior consultants in most large firms far exceed what they are paid by the firms in which they work. Value pricing models also dramatically increase the profitability of many projects and firms.
  4. Time-bound value. With the increasing pace of change, the moment a research report, competitive analysis, or strategic plan is delivered to a client, its currency and relevance rapidly diminishes as new trends, issues, and unforeseen disrupters arise.
  5. Knowledge commoditization. The models, templates, and tools of the consulting trade have historically been kept “secret” by consultants and locked away as intellectual capital. The “democratization” of just about everything, including management information and knowledge, will continue so that anyone can access and apply “best practices” on their own.

Paradoxically, even with these fundamental flaws — all of which are contrary to the best interests of clients — the industry continues to grow. Last year, for example, the management consulting industry saw a 4.1 percent growth rate.

So why be concerned?

Intersecting trends drive disruption.

Rapidly emerging trends have created a new breed of competitor — even if the industry doesn’t yet view these upstarts as competition. Firms like Domo, Looker, Qlik, Radius, and CBInsights tap into the converging trends shaping the future of business, and the world. By creating solutions at the intersection of big data, data analytics, the cloud, cognitive computing, visualization, and cross platform anytime access, these firms provide a glimpse into the type of automated, scalable data gathering, insights, and decision-making made possible by next generation technology.

The first to feel the detrimental effects of disruption will likely be the large research and advisory firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. With models that rely on armies of analysts, PDF reports that become outdated the moment they’re published, and significant annual subscription fees, these firms embody the most significant vulnerabilities of the larger consulting industry. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just about any consultant or firm that conducts primary or secondary research will see the value of these offerings — and clients’ willingness to pay for them — diminish significantly.

While many consultants and consulting firms have established practices advising clients on strategies to leverage disruptive trends and technologies, few apply this to themselves. Investing in the technological innovations and next generation business models is a fundamentally paradoxical concept in an industry driven by billable hours, billable days, and closely held best practices in the form of “knowledge capital.”

Eat your own dog food.

In 2000, I wrote an article in the first issue of Consulting to Management (C2M) about the importance of creating “knowledge assets” as a strategy to scale professional services offerings. The article described the importance of capturing and codifying intellectual capital in the form of process methodologies, tools, and templates. Many firms do that quite successfully today.

Repeatable processes, models and tools are indeed important for efficiency, scalability, and profitability. Yet the physical delivery of these staples of the trade remain chained to an entrenched business model. A new approach is needed if the management consulting industry — let alone individual firms and consultants — will have the chance to unlock the next phase of its evolution and value, before some dramatic external threat forces the issue.

Many clients hire consultants to tap into strategic thinking — seeing the big picture, identifying scenarios, choosing options, and creating game plans. Yet a conspicuous void exists when it comes to addressing strategic questions by and for the industry itself.

Here is a set of questions that can help jump start new business models for management consulting:

  • Transformative problems. What emerging client challenges and needs exist that, if addressed, would transform their business by 10x, or even 100x?
  • Radical intelligence. How do we leverage big data, artificial intelligence, collaboration tools, and other technologies to create a step change in the level of knowledge and insight we deliver?
  • Scalable relevance. How do we scale our tools and methods while ensuring applicability to the widest possible audience globally?
  • Knowledge democratization. How do we make our models, tools, and resources ubiquitously available while building a sustainable business model?
  • Collaborative ecosystems. What networks can we build or join that exponentially elevate the value we create and deliver?

In the field of business strategy, the “tyranny of success” is a well-known dynamic: what led to today’s success will ultimately lead to tomorrow’s failure. Individual consultants and consulting firms that recognize the limitations of their existing business model while exploring opportunities that tap into emerging technologies and new delivery models will have the best chance of thriving in the fast-approaching disruptive future.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of