«In five years, artificial assistants will be helping us with our jobs»

31.08.2018

 

Interview Computerworld dated 31 August 2018

Artificial intelligence is a mega-trend. In this interview, Dominik Moser, a senior manager at Ergon Informatik, talks about how Swiss companies can employ AI solutions right now and what we can expect over the next few years.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is often talked about in terms of «maybe». Where are we at with this? How implementable are today’s AI solutions in reality?

Current systems, referred to as AI, are called «weak AI» or «narrow AI». They focus on very narrow issues and only specialise in this kind of thing. On the other hand, «strong AI» can be ascribed consciousness, feelings or understanding, and «artificial general intelligence» (AGI), has the ability to apply intelligence to any and every problem. We’re still a long way away from stuff like «strong AI» and «AGI».

Which customer grouping is showing the biggest demand for AI applications at the current time?

AI-assisted technology is a powerful driver for digitalisation in many sectors. The availability of large data volumes and computing power and rapid progress in the field of cloud computing is having an accelerating effect. We’re currently seeing the biggest demand from the finance sector and industry. In both areas, the main focus is on the automation of routine tasks.

How important is AI to business strategy at Ergon Informatik?

Ergon has been using «narrow AI» for a long time now, for route planning in rail transport, for example. We made the decision to employ AI to a greater degree as part of our market development strategy. We put together a team of recognised experts to use a range of AI technology for internal projects and acquire practical experience. We started with the data. You need intelligent processing if you want to use it to generate added value in the form of decision criteria or total automation. This is where AI comes into play. Its importance will increase. Even for us as software providers. We can also see synergies with IoT and AR, which we also see as strategic.

How does Ergon Informatik assist clients with their AI projects?

Our people have a wide range of professional and technical experience, making Ergon Informatik an extremely competent partner for every phase of an AI project: From the identification of possible business cases to more detailed potential analyses and evaluation of algorithms and the complex implementation and integration in business-critical IT solutions.

What AI projects are you running and with which clients?

The Detect-F fraud detection solution came about as a result of one of our internal projects. It detects attempts to make fraudulent transactions with more reliable results than traditional procedures would allow. This was confirmed in a production situation. Further examples are order automation in the industrial and retail sectors and data analysis with IoT for industrial clients.

What kind of AI solutions will we be seeing in five years’ time?

I am confident that, in five years’ time, we will be seeing AI applications for assisting us in the form of intelligent assistants. By this I mean knowledge-based expert systems that will enable us to do our jobs more efficiently than we do now thanks to sound decision criteria. Personal intelligent assistants will also be doing routine tasks for us. But there will be no added value until AI moves away from the physical form of a device and forms a seamless network around us. Experts talk of immersive or ubiquitous AI.