Excerpts from a TCS-sponsored article in The Wall Street Journal
An AI-powered future
After decades of talk, research, and experimentation, AI is finally taking off, as companies deploy the technology in very significant ways to transform how they do business. Examples of transformative AI are everywhere—from biometric facial recognition on our smartphones, to predictive maintenance for equipment and facilities, to personalized customer experiences. And yet, despite all the advances, we’ve only really scratched the surface of AI’s potential impact. There’s so much more to come.
Instead of a future in which machines replace people, we are approaching an era of humanity enabled by Al.
Leaders huddle on AI
Bullish on AI making life better for everybody
Nidhi Srivastava, Vice President and Global Head, Google Business Unit, TCS, and Scott Penberthy, Director of Applied AI, Office of the CTO, Google Cloud, explore the myriad possibilities of AI-powered business transformation—focusing on how AI will change our world and the industries where the technology will push the limits of the imagination.
Excerpts from the insightful conversation between the two leaders:
Please give us your high-altitude view of how AI will change our world.
Nidhi Srivastava: I am very bullish about what AI can do for us in terms of transforming our work lives, our personal lives and making life better for everybody. There are risks, but I believe fundamentally in AI’s ability to enhance the beauty of the human mind. The possibilities are endless, from biometrics that streamline air travel to humanoid robotic tour guides. And thanks to exponential growth in the accumulation of data (and our ability to process it with cloud computing), all services from finance to mobility and healthcare to retail will be integrated in one single ecosystem. All these opportunities are underpinned by cloud.
Scott Penberthy: It’s ‘the great blending’ right? And we see evidence of this already with the rise of super apps. And it’s all about the data. Companies are all going to be on the cloud—a hop skip and jump away from integrating their data in a one-stop shop. The changes I’m excited about? For me, the big AI revolution in business is cutting out the drudgery. Imagine cutting the costs of a process in half, while boosting quality, and making customers happier. Like Nidhi says, you have a beautiful mind—you don’t want to spend it on tax regulation releases.
How will AI revolutionize healthcare?
Scott Penberthy: We’re transitioning from an age of sick care to wellness care. Instead of a progression where you start to age, get gray hair, develop a chronic disease—and die—AI will start enabling us to reverse the process. The reason we’re able to do this is that genetic sequencing—something that used to take a billion dollars in a decade—is coming down to the price of a latte. For example, we’re now seeing the source code for cancer. We don’t know yet how it works, but we’re starting to tweak things, seeming to make cancers go away.
Nidhi Srivastava: Like you Scott, I’m very excited about the potential of AI to diagnose cancers, to get to the point where cancers are treatable, or you can pretty much avoid them. I’m also excited by the ability of AI to improve the patient experience at hospitals. For example, checking into the hospital and having the entirety of your medical history, and genetic data, available at the doctor’s fingertips.
Banking on AI
How can AI transform banking and finance?
Nidhi Srivastava: In banking, conversational AI is going to empower millions of people in poor countries by enabling sophisticated mobile products, without needing any form of literacy, digital or otherwise. You’ll be able to consume these products from the village kiosk, or from the airport. Banking products will be completely digital, eliminating the need for physical banks altogether. This will level the financial playing field for people in the world’s remotest places, enabling their participation in the global economy.
Scott Penberthy: It isn’t easy when you’re young, to make responsible choices that add up to a secure future. AI banking assistants are transforming this. Imagine an app that gives you nudges, like ‘hey, you spent a little too much at the restaurant last night; why don’t you put ten dollars in savings.’ Then another nudge saying, ‘I’ll spot you the ten bucks, but you’ve got to put 10 percent of your next paycheck into savings.’ Six months later you’ve saved $500. AI will bring new generations a more seamless path to a secure future.
AI and the future of retail
What role will AI play in the future of retail?
Nidhi Srivastava: Pretty soon, AI will know your tastes and preferences better than your spouse does, and that will radically personalize the retail journey. Meanwhile, advances in natural language processing (NLP) and sales bots will mimic a human-like experience at scale. This retail future is going to be exciting because each of us, around the world, will participate. AI is optimizing logistics to such a degree that the world truly is becoming a global village. It’s bringing buying and selling power to the entire world. What makes this transition possible? One key is more virtual reality and augmented reality in e-commerce, which means you can try things on for the look, the feel, the rustles—without visiting a store.
Scott Penberthy: The other big trend I’m seeing in commerce is the metaverse—immersive online worlds where data integrates with VR experience. It’ll give rise to the creator economy, where retailers can curate the content of people with amazing creative powers. This is one more key way in which AI is empowering what Nidhi calls ‘the beautiful human mind.’
From healthcare to the future of work, AI promise to be synonymous with humanity 2.0. With global partnerships, such as TCS and Google Cloud, it can be a life-enhancing and mind-expanding journey for all of us.