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27.10.2020 | Blog AI does not have magic powers

The hype about artificial intelligence is without limits. However, the potential of AI cannot be fully exploited with dream dancing. Instead, a sober and pragmatic approach is needed, says Franz Kögl, CEO of IntraFind, the specialist for enterprise search and content analytics.

The artificial intelligence hype has raised expectations that can only be disappointed. In contrast to the often completely unrealistic promises made by some marketing departments, however, AI is not a magic cure-all for every conceivable problem. Nevertheless, it is not a useless deception package - on the contrary: it can help to automate processes, provide better customer service or even create completely new products and services. Companies that recognize this potential and exploit it for themselves can use the decisive lever for greater competitiveness.

A current study by the industry association Bitkom shows the extent to which marketing promises and practical application diverge in the field of artificial intelligence. In companies that already use AI, it mainly takes over simple tasks. Around two thirds of the companies surveyed use AI technologies in marketing for targeting and personalized advertising. In 40 percent, AI supports the automated booking of payments and the answering of enquiries or complaints. The emphasis is on "supports". On the other hand, some customers have a completely unrealistic expectation about AI projects, which can never be fulfilled. They have scenarios in mind where artificial intelligence takes over tasks completely independently.

This could be due to the fact that AI is still perceived very vaguely by the public at present: from the more or less "smart" machines, which perform their tasks in narrowly defined fields based on rules, to super-intelligence, which may one day be technically possible. Many do not distinguish between this so-called weak and strong AI. Weak AI systems are primarily designed to perform clearly defined tasks and operate reactively at a superficial intelligence level. They do not gain a deeper understanding of how to solve problems - if the prerequisites change, the program will have to be retrained or reprogrammed. All currently available AI applications in fact fall into the category of weak AI. A strong AI system, on the other hand, would match or even exceed the cognitive abilities of humans. It could draw logical conclusions and adapt to changing circumstances, set goals and pursue them. However, the question of whether strong AI can achieve its own consciousness and what role empathy, self-knowledge, memory and wisdom play in this remains open.

As of today, most artificial intelligences are actually "stupid", but they achieve amazing things in their special field. AI-equipped software for document and contract analysis is used by lawyers, for example, to search extensive contracts for critical clauses. The analysis tools identify change-of-control or assignment clauses, special termination or pandemic clauses, non-assignment clauses on liability exclusions and rental purposes, contractual penalties or non-competition clauses. The software thus becomes an intelligent reading aid that very quickly identifies and extracts critical paragraphs in huge document inventories and presents them to the lawyer for targeted review and further processing. Another example are AI-based enterprise search and analysis solutions: Help desk employees are confronted with a flood of queries every day and must have the right answer ready as quickly as possible. AI shows its strength in this routine task and simplifies the work noticeably.

It is a fact that AI systems provide employees with relevant information that optimally supports them in their work. Artificial intelligence augments the abilities of each individual, eases the workload and makes a valuable contribution to process optimization. But nothing more. Anyone who accepts that AI does not have magical powers is already on the right track.

The author

Franz Kögl
Franz Kögl is co-founder and co-owner of IntraFind Software AG and has almost 20 years experience in Enterprise Search and Content Analytics.
Franz Kögl